Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court has dismissed MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s challenge to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in the July the 30th elections has been delayed.

The court judgment means that Mnangagwa is still Zimbabwe’s president-elect.

This is how Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice Luke Malaba handed down judgment in the capital, Harare.

“It is an internationally accepted principle of election disputes that an election is not set aside easily merely on the basis that irregularities occurred. There is a presumption of the validity of the election. It is not for the court to decide an election, it is the people.

“In the result, the following order is made: the application is dismissed with costs. Emmerson Mnangagwa is duly declared the winner of the presidential elections,” Justice Luke Malaba says.

Chamisa’s lawyers alleged that there was massive doctoring of the vote to keep Mnangagwa in office. However, lawyers for Mnangagwa insisted that there was insufficient evidence.

The court ruled that MDC Alliance had failed to prove allegations of fraud during the elections, and that these have affected the final results.

ZANU-PF’s Mnangagwa won the presidential election with 50.8% of the vote against MDC’s Chamisa with 44.3%.

Mnangagwa’s inauguration should now take place within 48 hours of the court’s ruling, according to the constitution.

Nine judges, led by Chief Justice Malaba, delivered the unanimous verdict at the court in Harare, amid tight security though there were no protests ahead of the ruling.

In a first for the country, the proceedings were broadcast live on state television.

Mnangagwa, who has vowed to revive Zimbabwe’s ruined economy, had hoped the elections would draw a line under Mugabe’s repressive 37-year rule and open up a stream of foreign investment and aid.

Campaigning was more open than previous votes, but the election was marred by the army opening fire on protesters, killing six, allegations of vote-rigging and a crackdown on opposition activists.

The MDC has cited a catalogue of discrepancies including incorrect counting, fake “ghost” polling stations, and at some polling stations more ballots being counted than there were registered voters.

Derek Matyszak, a legal expert at the University of Zimbabwe, had predicted that the opposition faced an uphill struggle given the courts’ historic tilt towards ZANU-PF, which has ruled since independence from British colonial rule in 1980.

“The outcome (was) pretty predictable,” Matyszak told AFP.

The MDC’s appeal, which was lodged hours before the deadline on August 10, forced Mnangagwa’s inauguration — planned for August 12 — to be postponed.

International monitors largely praised the conduct of the election itself, although EU observers said that Mnangagwa, a former long-time Mugabe ally, benefited from an “un-level playing field”.

The court could have declare a winner, call another election, or order a run-off or recount. -Additional reporting by AFP

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