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Top SA advocates denied permits for MDC case

Nelson Chamisa

While it has emerged that the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) will for the first time air a live broadcast of the much-anticipated Constitutional Court case tomorrow, there is still uncertainty over the readiness of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance’s legal team.

The case is set to take place at the court located in Harare. It will see Zimbabwe’s President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa face off with MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, following last month’s general elections.

So crucial is the case that the opposition party and Chamisa are leaving nothing to chance and have since employed the services of a strong legal contingent, which includes South African advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, an SC and member of the British Bar.

To further beef up their team, it is thought that Gauntlett will be joined by advocate Dali Mpofu, SC, who last week began counting down the days to the court case, confirming via Twitter that he was among the legal minds who would be battling it out.

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Speculation has been rife on whether Mpofu or Gauntlett will be representing the MDC tomorrow, as they are yet to sort out permits to practise law in that country.

It is thought that the head of Zimbabwe’s highest court, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, wants the pair to approach him in the matter, with consultations being held with the Law Society of Zimbabwe.

Nelson Chamisa

On Monday night, lawyers connected to the case said permission was denied to both Gauntlett and Mpofu to appear in the top court in Harare.

Contacted for comment by Independent Media on Monday, neither was able to indicate what the status quo was.

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“(I’m) afraid I don’t comment on cases. Mr Chris Mhike at Atherstone and Cook in Harare instructs (me). He might.” Gauntlett said in a text message.

Tomorrow’s legal battle is expected to largely focus on the tally of votes from the presidential poll.

While international observers declared the July 30 elections free, peaceful and fair, the result of the presidential poll between Chamisa and Mnangagwa has been a bone of contention, as the MDC-Alliance continues to cry foul over the numbers released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), with Chamisa similarly suggesting that the results are not a true reflection of the votes cast by the electorate.

The results stipulated that Mnangagwa had won 50.8% of the votes, while Chamisa came in second with 44.3%

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The margin is what has given Mnangagwa the ability to avoid a second round of elections.

Chamisa filed his application to the court two weeks ago, alleging in legal papers that there were substantial clerical errors because the ZEC had recalculated some of its sums in the results spreadsheet, effectively altering Mnangagwa’s vote count to 50.6%.

In a counter-argument, Mnangagwa’s party, the governing Zanu-PF, said in opposing papers that the MDC’s claims over the figures lacked substantive merit.

While the court can declare a winner, it can also declare a run-off in 60 days or make any other ruling it deems fit.

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Meanwhile, the centre of Harare, outside the Constitutional Court, will be blocked to traffic on tomorrow. Officials said the closure was to minimise chances of similar violence that rocked the country early this month.

Some residents of the capital said they feared that the army could again fire live ammunition into crowds, whatever the outcome.

Source: News24

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