Africa 23.8.2018 09:40 am

Chiwenge’s veiled threat reveals extent of rift with Mnangagwa

New interim Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on after he was officially sworn-in during a ceremony in Harare on November 24, 2017. Picture: AFP Photo / Mujahid Safodien.

New interim Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on after he was officially sworn-in during a ceremony in Harare on November 24, 2017. Picture: AFP Photo / Mujahid Safodien.

MDC challenge considered unimportant, as the post-election rift in Zim between president-elect Mnangagwa and VP Chiwenga grows.

As Zimbabwe braced for opposition protests after this month’s disputed election, a heated argument broke out in the offices of President Emmerson Mnangagwa over who was in charge of national security. This according to two people with direct knowledge of the meeting.

Reuters reports that at one point Vice President Constantino Chiwenga reminded Mnangagwa that it was he who had installed the president in power after last year’s coup against Robert Mugabe.

The post-election rift between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga paints the clearest picture yet of a power struggle that could define Zimbabwe’s future.

Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday began to hear an opposition petition seeking to overturn the presidential election results, in a legal challenge seen as unlikely to succeed despite allegations of vote fraud.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused the ruling Zanu-PF party and the election commission of rigging the July 30 vote, Zimbabwe’s first poll since the ousting of Robert Mugabe last year.

Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, won with 50.8% of the vote — just enough to avoid a run-off against the MDC’s Nelson Chamisa, who scored 44.3%.

“We have a very strong case and we are going to reverse the electoral fraud,” Chamisa told reporters this week.

“We are going to defend your vote, our vote, the people’s vote. We have no doubt that victory is certain.”

READ MORE: Mpofu, Ngcukaitobi battle to enter Zim court as election challenge gets underway

Mnangagwa, who has vowed to turn around Zimbabwe’s ruined economy, hoped the elections would draw a line under Mugabe’s repressive 37-year rule.

While the run-up and voting day were seemingly more open than previous elections this was dramatically marred by the army opening fire on protesters – killing six, allegations of vote-rigging and a crackdown on opposition activists following the results announcement.

“I won the court case before it began,” Mnangagwa said on the sidelines of a regional summit in Namibia at the weekend. “It’s declared free and fair… why would I ever think that I will lose?”

It was reported on Thursday morning that the Africa Judges and Jurists Forum (AJJF) has dispatched senior judges and jurists to observe the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s presidential court challenge against President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa, which began at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Wednesday.

Arnold Tsunga, Africa director at International Commission of Jurists, disclosed that three jurists had already been accredited to observe Chamisa’s presidential petition, NewsDay reported.

“The Africa Judges and Jurists Forum will be represented by secretary-general Martin Masiga from Uganda, Retired Chief Justice Earnest Sakala of Zambia and Justice Isaac Lenaola from the Supreme Court of Kenya,” Tsunga said.

The International Court of Jurists and the AJJF work closely together and the former has lent its support to the AJJF mission in Zimbabwe.

The AJJF is based in South Africa and was formed by African judges and jurists to promote the rule of law and development in the region.

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