The leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC Alliance Nelson Chamisa said he is not backing down on allegations that the ruling Zanu-PF party stole the July 30th elections, and that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court, were all complicit in facilitating President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory.
Despite a Constitutional Court ruling that paved the way for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration Sunday, after dismissing the MDC Alliance’s election outcome challenge as lacking evidence to substantiate claims of vote rigging, the opposition party’s leader, Nelson Chamisa, said the bigger issue of legitimacy still hangs in the balance.
“The issues of legitimacy are not resolved in the courts," said Chamisa. Legitimacy comes from the people. The will of the people is fundamental and final, and the people have decided, the people have spoken, the people have voted, their voice must be protected,” he said.
Having failed to get a favorable ruling from the Constitutional Court in Zimbabwe’s who’s ruling is final, Chamisa, who did not attend Sunday’s inauguration, is now looking outside Zimbabwe to help shed light on what he insists was a stolen election.
His party, which has been engaging diplomats of various western and regional countries, plans to take its case to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in the Gambia, though he knows it will have no bearing on Mnangagwa’s presidency.
“Yes, that route is closed," acknowledged Chamisa, "but we have other remedies available for purposes of testing the correctness of the decision, for the purposes of laying to bed and on the table, the evidentiary basis upon which we are seeking the relief, we are seeking the constitutional courts," said Chamisa.
He continued, "number two, we must also exploit and explore our remedies that are available on the continent because we need African solutions to African problems."
President Mnangagwa has called out to Chamisa directly to join him in his call for peace, but Chamisa said outside twitter and in public speeches, Mnangagwa has not officially reached out to him.
“There hasn’t been any approach, there hasn’t been any indication that that kind of invitation,” Chamisa said.
The opposition leader contends that previous efforts to engage Mnangagwa in dialogue, prior to the elections, have not succeeded in getting them to meet.
"We wrote to Mr. Mnangagwa on a party to party basis and also on in his capacity as the government leader then, before elections, because we had raised certain issues, those issues have not been addressed, the letter has not been responded to," Chamisa explained.
"We’d expect a reply from him then we can start to talk about how we can go forward, because if he doesn’t do it, we will continue to insist on our position that we won this election."
However, some members of the ruling Zanu-PF party say there is no basis for Mnangagwa to meet with Chamisa, particularly following the Constitutional Court ruling which was aired live on TV and Facebook, and gave Mnangagwa the mandate to lead.
The party’s secretary for legal affairs, Paul Mangwana, said Chamisa has no leverage to make any demands.
"Nelson Chamisa is clearly aware that he lost the election, with a very good margin of almost 300, 000 votes so he has no basis for wasting everybody’s time, instead of allowing President Mnangagwa to focus on governing the country and bringing economic recovery to the people of Zimbabwe," said Mangwana.
Former United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray, said it will work to Chamisa’s advantage to accept this loss of this election and look to the next election, 2023.
"I think its incumbent upon the opposition to at least honor the court’s decision, not to stop working to improve the conditions in Zimbabwe, but to look for ways to pull the country together to look forward to improving people’s lives there, and look to the next election,” said Ray, who served as Ambassador to Zimbabwe under the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2012.
Chamisa, however, said he and his party only want the best for Zimbabweans who for years have been living under a shattered economy and isolation from the international community.
He said he plans to keep up the pressure on Mnangagwa to deliver on his campaign promise to improve the lives of his fellow citizens.
"People are suffering, people have no jobs, industries are closing, we have problems with the currency – I see the bond note is wild on the market. We need to be resolving those issues, business has to be back in the fold. Now its not happening because we have political issues that are supposed to be sorted out."