Zimbabwe’s main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party, led by Nelson Chamisa, will not lodge a court challenge against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s controversial re-election on 23 August, arguing that the country’s courts are ‘captured’. This paves the way for a subdued inauguration of the veteran Zanu-PF leader on Monday.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to be inaugurated on Monday, 4 September at the National Sports Stadium in Harare for his second term in office after Nelson Chamisa of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party failed to file papers in the country’s apex court to challenge the Zanu-PF leader’s re-election in polls that were condemned by the opposition and international observers.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declared that Mnangagwa won the presidential vote on 23 August with 52.6%, while Chamisa got 44% of the total votes cast. The remainder was split between other smaller parties.
CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said the party would not go to court in its quest to set aside Mnangagwa’s controversial win, arguing that Zimbabwe’s courts were captured by Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF. Mkwananzi said the party had dispatched envoys on a diplomatic offensive to push for fresh polls.
“We are following the political and diplomatic route to bring pressure to bear on Mr Mnangagwa and his FAZ [Forever Associates of Zimbabwe] to concede that there was no election and cooperate in line with SADC guidelines to bring forth a fresh, free and fair election,” Mkwananzi said.
He was quoted by Zimlive.com as saying the CCC would also pursue mass protests. However, Mnangagwa said his country’s security forces were prepared to crush any uprisings and jail those holding protests.
Among the dignitaries expected to attend Mnangagwa’s inauguration are South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Mozambican counterpart, Filipe Nyusi. A source in the Botswana presidency said President Mokgweetsi Masisi was not expected to travel to Harare for the inauguration, where authorities have also lined up a soccer match between Zimbabwe and Namibia, ostensibly to attract crowds.
“Although our president is among those who congratulated President Mnangagwa on his re-election, he is likely not to travel to Zimbabwe. He is travelling to Perth [in Australia] where he is expected to deliver a keynote address at the Africa Down Under conference,” said the source.
Mkwananzi said it was too soon for African leaders to congratulate Zimbabwe’s president-elect.
Opposition hopes pinned on international support
“We count on the help of and support of SADC, AU [African Union] and the international community to help facilitate the process of bringing forth a fresh, free and fair election.
“Our political and diplomatic processes are now in full swing; the region is being engaged, the citizens are being consulted, change is coming. Those congratulatory messages [from countries including South Africa and Botswana] are both premature and undermine the SEOM [SADC Electoral Observer Mission] process, which is still under way.
“SADC cannot abandon the truth, which is that there was no election in Zimbabwe and there is a need for fresh, free and fair elections,” Mkwananzi said.
The South African Presidency said Ramaphosa would travel to Zimbabwe on Monday to attend Mnangagwa’s inauguration. He will be accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor.
Zanu-PF acting information director Farai Marapira told Daily Maverick that by abandoning the legal route, Chamisa and his party had accepted that they lost.
“The diplomatic route cannot be self-sufficient in itself without being guided by legal standpoints. They cannot expect to pursue a reversal of a legal election outcome based upon opinions that are not legally binding or whose impartiality is subject to scrutiny. They have, in essence, accepted that they have no sound basis on which to challenge their loss,” Marapira said.
Chamisa: ‘Help is on its way’
However, Chamisa — who described the outcome of the polls as a “gigantic fraud” — assured his supporters via X (formerly known as Twitter) that “help is on its way” to ensure that the democratic will of the people was respected by Zimbabwean authorities.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu, who works with International Media Support, said Chamisa’s diplomatic efforts might not result in fresh elections, although they could lead to key democratic reforms being implemented before the next elections, due in 2028.
“I do not necessarily think that they will achieve a new election, but what they may achieve is focus on reforms that need to be done to the manner in which elections are done in Zimbabwe, which is more of a push for governance reforms touching on electoral policy and practice.
“What they may also achieve is further isolation of President Mnangagwa; this noting that there are many election observer missions such as SADC, AU and EU that have noted a number of malpractices in the manner in which this election was conducted.
“The CCC will certainly have some sympathisers, but this may not necessarily result in a new election because once Mnangagwa is inaugurated, he, according to Zimbabwe’s laws, is the president of this country for the next five years and it will be difficult for any process, legal or otherwise, to remove him from power,” Mukundu said.
The CCC claimed that hundreds of thousands of its supporters, especially in its urban strongholds, failed to vote on election day because of the ZEC’s bungling.
Chamisa and his party also argue that their parallel tabulation showed that Chamisa won the presidency, although their data experts are yet to reveal their final tally.
The ZEC claimed that its poor management of the polls was caused by the litigious nature of the run-up to the polls. The prelude to the election was also characterised by violence and the intimidation of opposition supporters.