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Zimbabwe Court Upholds Presidential Election Of Emmerson Mnangagwa


Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court has upheld the sitting president's election victory. The case puts a legal capstone on a historic and violent election season. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports from the capital Harare.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Zimbabwe's opposition brought a case before the Constitutional Court that alleged vast rigging and noted that the Electoral Commission had changed final results three times. The Constitutional Court, however, was not convinced.


LUKE MALABA: The best evidence in this instance would have been the contents of the ballot boxes themselves.

PERALTA: Chief Justice Luke Malaba says the opposition should have opened those boxes. They should have compared votes actually cast to what was announced by the commission.


MALABA: No such proof was adduced by the applicant to support these allegations.

PERALTA: So the court ruled Emmerson Mnangagwa was the duly elected president of Zimbabwe, and everyone filed out of the court quietly. Nqobizitha Mlilo, a human rights lawyer, says this case was about more than an election. It was a chance for a post-Robert Mugabe court to rule against a flawed and compromised electoral system. The quiet on the streets, he says, speaks volumes.

NQOBIZITHA MLILO: And if there's no one who's in the streets now celebrating to confirm the legitimacy of the political system, the question of legitimacy continues.

PERALTA: But this judgment is final. So I ask Mlilo what's the recourse for Zimbabweans who think like him.

MLILO: Peaceful transitions become difficult. Violent ones become inevitable. So whether or not the Zimbabwean society has reached that stage, I don't know.


PERALTA: In downtown Harare, there were some celebrations, mostly government supporters zooming past in cars. But in Africa Unity Square, the mood is somber. P.Y., who gives me her initials because she's scared of retribution, is resigned. She's sitting on a park bench, kicking around the fallen purple petals of a jacaranda tree. Taking to the streets would no doubt result in violence, she says. So they have no choice but to go home, accept and move on.

P Y: Actually, we just hope for something better because the decision is already made. So we just keep on hoping that things will change to a better condition.

PERALTA: Maybe, she says, this is what God intended - that Zanu-PF, which has been in power since independence, stays there for another five years. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Harare. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.