‘ConCourt has power to declare winner, stop inauguration’

LEGAL think-tank, Veritas yesterday said the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) had powers to declare another presidential candidate a winner or order an election run-off if the opposition MDC Alliance’s electoral outcome challenge is upheld.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Veritas, in its latest election watch bulletin, said MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa and any other aggrieved candidates had up to tomorrow at close of business to lodge their petitions to challenge the electoral outcome in terms of section 93 of the Constitution.

“The ConCourt’s decision on a presidential election challenge can take any form in terms of section 93 (4) of the Constitution like to declare a winner, which means it can confirm the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s declaration or declare another candidate the winner,” the legal think-tank said.

“It can invalidate the election, in which case a fresh election must be held within 60 days and note that this probably means a new election rather than a run-off or it can make any other order it considers just and appropriate.”

Veritas also said the ConCourt could make any other order it considers just and appropriate like ordering a run-off election if it finds that none of the candidates, in fact, gained 50% or more of the votes, or order a recount of the votes if the applicant has asked for it.

The think-tank said although the court’s powers seemed very wide, the Electoral Act puts several hurdles in the way of an applicant who asks the court to exercise them.

“The court will not set aside an election on the ground of a mistake or non-compliance with the Act unless the court considers the election was not conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the Act and the mistake or non-compliance affected the result of the election in terms of section 177 of the Act.

“This will be not easy for any challenger to establish. For example, the MDC Alliance may be able to show that Zec did not conduct the election as transparently as it should have done and may be able to prove further that Zanu PF misused State property for electoral purposes, dragooned schoolchildren into attending rallies and suborned traditional leaders; but it would then have to prove that all these irregularities actually affected the result,” they said.

On the swearing-in of a new President, Veritas said if an electoral challenge is lodged on the validity of the presidential election, then the President-elect’s swearing-in takes place 48 hours after the ConCourt has announced its decision on the challenge.

“If no electoral challenge is lodged, under section 94 of the Constitution, a President-elect must take oath of office on the ninth day after he or she was declared elected, which means August 12,” Veritas said.


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