Zimbabwe's MDC challenges Robert Mugabe election victory

10.08.2013 04:50

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has filed a legal
challenge to Robert Mugabe's victory
in last week's presidential elections.
The electoral petition seeks an order for
the result to be declared null and void
and a new election to be called within 60
The MDC's 15 grounds include alleged
bribery, abuse of "assisted voting" and
manipulation of the electoral roll.
Mr Mugabe, 89, won with 61% of the
presidential vote.
His Zanu-PF party gained a parliamentary
majority of more than two-thirds, with
160 seats against 49 for the MDC.
The MDC is to file a complaint on the
parliamentary results at a later date,
reports the BBC's Brian Hungwe in the
capital Harare.
With a two-thirds majority, Zanu-PF is
able to amend the constitution,
potentially restoring presidential powers
which were reduced earlier this year.
'Turned away'
Lawyers for the MDC, which filed its
petition with the country's constitutional
court, told the BBC they had "strong
evidence of electoral irregularities".
They said a shockingly high number of
people were unable to vote at the polls,
and that food and other bribes were
used to persuade voters to back Mr
Mugabe, our correspondent says.
"The Movement of Democratic Change
has filed its election petition... what we
seek is that this election be declared null
and void in terms of section 93 of the
constitution of Zimbabwe," said MDC
spokesman Douglas Mwonzora.
The challenge comes a day after
Zimbabwe's electoral commission said
nearly 305,000 voters had been turned
away from polling stations on election
day. The MDC says the true number is
about 900,000.
Mr Mugabe's margin of victory was some
940,000 votes.
A week after the election, Mr Mugabe
dismissed criticism of the polls and
lashed out at Western countries for their
Zimbabwe's nine-member constitutional
court has up to 14 days to respond to
the legal challenge.
Correspondents say some of the judges
are believed to be Mugabe loyalists.
Zimbabwe's electoral commission said
nearly 305,000 voters were turned away
The MDC says it is "aware" of this, and as
a result it will make its appeal public and
even produce evidence of "bribed
goods", the BBC's Mark Lowen reports
from Johannesburg.
If the court upholds the results, Mr
Mugabe must be sworn in within 48
hours of the ruling.
"We have done the best that we can
under the circumstances, presented the
matter before the court, and it is now up
to the court to determine how strong the
case is," said MDC lawyer Chris Mhike.
African and regional monitors praised
the poll for being peaceful but noted
some irregularities. Western observers
were not invited to witness the 31 July
But a local observer group, the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(Zesn) and its network of 7,000
observers, has said that about one
million voters - mainly in urban areas -
were "systematically disenfranchised" by
being omitted from the voters' roll or
turned away.
The electoral roll has come in for
criticism for having duplicate names and
the names of dead Zimbabweans.
The MDC says 900,000 people were
turned away from polling stations -
mostly in the capital where the MDC's
vote is strong - and another 300,000
people were coerced through "assisted
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai rejected
the vote as fraudulent and said his party
would boycott government institutions.
The Zanu-PF and the MDC have been in a
coalition since 2009, after the last
election sparked widespread violence.