PRESIDENT-ELECT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration ceremony scheduled for yesterday had to be aborted after the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance last Friday successfully filed its Constitutional Court (ConCourt) petition challenging the presidential results.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The cancellation came as regional leaders had already been invited to attend the inauguration ceremony while others, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, had already sent in their congratulatory messages to Mnangagwa.
Diplomatic communication gleaned by NewsDay also showed that some embassies had already begun advising their invited guests that the inauguration had been postponed.
“The Embassy of the Republic of Namibia in the Republic of Zimbabwe has the honour to inform you that the inauguration ceremony of His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa which was scheduled for Sunday, 12 August 2018 has been postponed in order to allow time for certain processes,” read an urgent letter from the Namibian embassy signed by the diplomatic mission’s charge d’Affairs, Saima Sakaria.
Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana yesterday confirmed that the party had already informed its invited guests of the latest developments.
“In terms of the Constitution, once a petition challenging the election has been filed with the ConCourt, the President cannot assume his office until the Constitutional Court makes a conclusion,” Mangwana said.
“We were aware that there was a possibility of an election petition and so the inauguration is not proceeding, and I am quite sure that government systems have already informed the invited Heads of State about the cancellation.”
Legal expert Alex Magaisa said the implication of the MDC Alliance filing the petition meant that the inauguration will be cancelled.
“There are certain timelines that must be followed. This puts on hold the inauguration of President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa, which had been tentatively scheduled for yesterday,” he said.
“The process, which allows electoral challenges to be exhausted before inauguration was designed to prevent a phenomenon referred to as a ‘rush to inauguration’ – a common practice where a declared winner is hastily inaugurated soon after the announcement of results, regardless of other candidates’ grievances.”
Magaisa said if there had not been a petition, the inauguration would have been held on the ninth day after the declaration of the results in terms of section 94 (1) of the constitution.
Legal think-tank, Veritas said if a petition is lodged challenging the validity of the presidential election, the President-elect’s swearing in will then have to take place 48 hours after the Constitutional Court has announced its decision on the challenge.
Zec announced that Mnangagwa had won the election by 50,8%, but Chamisa claimed that his votes were stolen as he believed he garnered 2 674 032 votes against Mnangagwa’s 2 008 639 votes.