Zimbabwe opposition leader Nelson Chamisa says he has evidence to show that he was cheated out of the July 30 presidential vote, writes Adwoa Korkoh.

The MDC Alliance candidate won 44.3 per cent of the poll against Emmerson Mnangagwa’s 50.8 per cent.

Chamisa says he was robbed of victory

But according to a petition filed at the constitutional court on Friday, Chamisa claims that at least 700,000 of the votes cast cannot be accounted for, an indication the poll was manipulated to ensure the incumbent’s victory.

“Obviously, that huge figure materially affects the outcome of the election,” he said.

He also alleged a number of irregularities, including a double counting of votes and mathematical errors, which had a significant impact on the poll outcome.

Chamisa wants the court to reverse the electoral commission’s declaration of Mnangagwa as the winner or order a re-run of the poll.

The election itself passed peacefully but the announcement of Mnangagwa’s narrow victory saw opposition supporters immediately taking to the streets of the capital, Harare, to denounce the result. Tanks rolled in to disperse the angry crowds and six people were killed.

Chamisa declared “a day of mourning for democracy” and said the army’s violent crackdown was a sign that the poll had been rigged.

The victor, but Mnangagwa faces pressure over disputed poll

“If the violence had not occurred then things would have taken a more favourable turn,” said Jon Offei-Ansah, commentator and publisher of Africa Briefing magazine.

“The fact that the army was brought in to deal with the protests rather than leaving it to the police gives the impression that the military is still in charge.”

Mnangagwa, who served as deputy president in the Zanu-PF government before being sacked, came to power in November after long time leader Robert Mugabe was forced to step down by the military. Former army chief, Constantino Chiwenga, was appointed vice-president shortly afterwards.

The judges of the constitutional court have 14 days to rule on the case but the electoral commission has insisted that there was “no skulduggery” involved in the elections.

Military patrol Harare following protests

“This will be a test of the independence of the judiciary, which is known for its Zanu-PF sympathies,” Offei-Ansah told World Today Press.

“But I don’t see the courts nullifying the election result,” he added. “There is more likely to be a compromise solution such as the establishment of a unity government as has happened before.”

US president Donald Trump ramped up the pressure on Friday by stating that punishing  sanctions against Zimbabwe will not be lifted unless the elections are “widely accepted as free and fair”.

Washington also says the Zimbabwean army must “respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan in character”.

“Mnangagwa has a lot of work to do in pulling the Zimbabwe economy out of the woods but the bottom line is that the elections have got to be deemed free and fair,” added Offei-Ansah.

“If that happens then everyone will come on board – Trump, the EU, the IMF and all the rest – and investors will start flooding in.”