EDITORIAL COMMENT: Concourt hearing feather in cap for Zim Nelson Chamisa

WE hail the decision by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to allow live broadcasting of the proceedings at the Constitutional Court in the matter in which MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa was challenging President Mnangagwa’s victory in the just-ended harmonised elections.

The incumbent President trounced Chamisa with 50,67 percent of the total votes cast to 44,3 percent with Zanu-PF retaining its two thirds majority in the National Assembly and dominance in the Upper House.

Lawyers from both sides were given the chance to present evidence in defence of their clients’ positions, all in the full glare of not only the nation, but the world at large.

We would not want to second guess the judgment to be handed down by the Constitutional Court on Friday but the beauty of it is that the nation and world will understand how that judgment will have been arrived at. The judgment will be final and will allow Zimbabwe to move on to tackle the multi-faceted challenges confronting citizens.

Far from being a blight on our democratic process, the MDC-Alliance petition was another feather in our country’s democratic tradition which affords not only anyone interested in contesting for political office the chance to do so, but also sets very low thresholds as evidenced by the high number of candidates who contested the harmonised elections at all levels.

After contesting, any aggrieved candidate can approach the courts for recourse and if he/she manages to convince the courts can get the relief he/she seeks.

Our Constitution affords all those who may have gripes with the system the chance to be heard in court and if they have compelling cases, they are given a second bite at the cherry.

It is time we acknowledge we have a highly democratic system that we should all be proud of. What happened yesterday is not without precedent and should never be used to sully the commendable efforts by ZEC and the new administration of President Mnangagwa to ensure that elections reflect the will of the people.

As the lawyers from both sides consistently showed yesterday in referring to cases from countries as diverse as Zambia, South Africa and the United States, electoral challenges are part and parcel of democratic contestation.

For instance after election 2000, the US was subjected to a month-long hearing pitting then president-elect George W. Bush against main contender Al Gore who had won the popular vote by more than 400 000 votes, but was trailing in Electoral College votes.

The US Supreme Court found for Bush who was declared duly elected 43rd president of the United States. That is their system. Ours requires the winner to attain the threshold of 50 percent plus 1 votes for an outright win.

We hope all who opted to observe our elections will have the decency to respect the outcome.

And that includes Chamisa who, in approaching the highest court in the land, should realise that he has reached the end of the line should the court find against him.

He will have to outgrow his boyish predilection for mistaking elections or court hearings as zero-sum games that should only go his way.

President Mnangagwa has shown the way in pledging to respect the outcome of all democratic processes.

There is a lot that needs to be done to improve the lot of the people and the nation can ill-afford continued sideshows or ego trips.

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