Zimbabwe’s opposition challenges president’s legitimacy

Leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance in Zimbabwe have vowed to continue their challenge of Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy as the newly elected president of Zimbabwe. They are appealing to the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights to help decide a case of “stolen votes” and other electoral malpractices brought against Mnangagwa, who was declared winner of the recently held presidential elections in Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa has already been inaugurated at a public ceremony on Sunday August 26 at the Harare National Sports Stadium. South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame were among the list of regional leaders who attended the inauguration event, which Nelson Chamisa and his opposition supporters  described as a “false political parade.”

The inauguration followed a ruling by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court that opposition leaders failed to convince the court that the elections were rigged in favor of Mnangagwa, the ZANU-PF’s presidential candidate.

The inauguration was scheduled two weeks earlier, but was postponed because of the opposition’s court petition filed against the election results. The court, however, ruled against the opposition’s claims for lack of convincing evidence.

With legal avenues in Zimbabwe now exhausted, opposition leaders say they are taking their case to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. 

“We will be filing the petition with the commission this week,” they said. 

At a press conference on Saturday, Chamisa told journalists that they are approaching the commission with a petition based “on the flagrant and multiple violations of the universal human rights of the voters and people of Zimbabwe by the current Zimbabwean regime and the Constitutional Court”.

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa addresses the press on the Zimbabwe elections.

The opposition’s claims include the “right to free and fair elections; the right to a fair hearing before an impartial court; the right to legal representation by counsel of choice; the right against undue political interference; and the right to be governed by a legitimate government.” 

It’s not clear whether there is a precedent for the case, but the opposition believes that “the jurisdiction of the commission appears wide enough to encapsulate claims about denial of the right to a free and fair election, at least as part of the right to self-determination.”

Observers say the case might be turned away by the commission on the grounds that domestic legal remedies had been exhausted before Mnangagwa’s inauguration.

Pansy Tlakula, a former chairperson of the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights told journalists in South Africa that “the commission’s processes are slow, and Zimbabwe had ignored almost all the recommendations of the commission” in previous years.

Analysts, however, believe that the opposition’s challenge would have severe implications on how Zimbabwe is viewed internationally.

Piers Pigou of the International Crisis Group (ICG) notes that the opposition’s challenge is designed to promote a case on why Mnangagwa’s presidential legitimacy is suspect.

“Legitimacy is important for Mnangagwa in the eyes of the international community if they are to help him achieve his goals of opening Zimbabwe for business,” he said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *