Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC-T, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, announced on Friday that he would be withdrawing the Presidential election challenge he had filed earlier at the Constitutional Court.
Following the general elections, which took place last month, won by Mugabe’s party, their main opponents vowed to challenge the results in court relying on various cases of reported electoral malpractices as their main evidence.
The notice of withdrawal were filed at the Constitutional Court in Harare by Mr. Tsvangirai at exactly 17:25 on Friday and the withdrawal affidavits were served by MDC-T lawyer, Chris Mhike.
Mr. Tsvangirai, while speaking to the media, cited the following reasons as the reasons for his decision to withdraw the case: negative publicity by the state media, presence of the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe at the national shrine on heroes day and the unavailability of ballot material.
Hints that the MDC-T would be withdrawing the case had been given earlier by the party’s national spokesperson, Mr. Douglas Mwonzora during a press conference held at the MDC-T headquarters at Harvest House. He also cited grievances, which included disagreements with the electoral court, the Attorney-General and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
The Constitutional Court has deferred proceedings on the election petition to Monday the 19th of August at 10am.
Speaking on the decision to withdraw the suit against the election results, Robert Mugabe’s legal representative, Fred Gijima, who had already filed heads of argument on behalf of his client, said the pullout was un-procedural, null and void as such serious constitutional matter can only be withdrawn before the court itself and not prior to proceedings.
“If they have made a decision whether they want to withdraw the petition it’s up to them, but technically in terms of the constitution, you can’t withdraw such a petition, especially a petition regarding the challenge of the election of a president”.
“Its not possible to withdraw it, you have to appear in court, argue your case, you must understand that it’s a serious matter, serious allegations have been made against the President –the highest office in the country – and they can’t just withdraw after having made such serious allegations,” said Advocate Gijima.
Legal analysts have described the last minute pullout by the MDC-T leader as being influenced by a plot to attempt to smuggle its grievances to the SADC summit taking place this weekend in Malawi since the regional body has always made it clear that it does not interfere with matters before the courts.