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African press review 25 August 2018

Zimbabwe's Consitutional Court delivers its verdict on the contested presidential election. The opposition cries foul as the president-elect holds out an olive branch to the man who tried to overturn his victory.

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Zimbabwe's Consitutional Court has upheld Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in the 30 July presidential election and dismissed, with costs, an application by opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to have the result nullified.

The government-owned Herald reports it thus : "BREAKING: ED win upheld."

The paper quotes Chief Justice Luke Malaba as saying "a full judgement will be issued in due course."

That's the full extent of the Herald's coverage in its online edition.

However, there is no shortage of readers' reactions to the court's ruling posted beneath the breaking news.

They range from: "The courts have decided!!! It's time for business now. Mr President once again congratulations for winning the court case .We hope this is the last hurdle. To the loser I simply say swallow the pride and work with the new government for the development of the country."

To: "ZanuPF in 38 years has not been able to give us developments. The opposite is true. Why should things suddenly be different? "

And : "I have so much stuff I would like to say, vile things, but i won't say it now. All I have to say now is let's all go back to our lives and keep Zanu PF on their toes, let's seek all those opportunities they promised us. Politicians come and go but Zimbabwe is here forever."

Poisoned chalice

Privately owned NewsDay, meanwhile, delivers extensive coverage, declaring "ConCourt trashes Chamisa case" and explaining that " Chamisa failed to provide the court with primary evidence to enable it to invalidate the declaration made by the Electoral Commission."

The paper says the judge said Chamisa’s lawyers were asked by the court why they did not seek to present the primary evidence from the ballot boxes, the best evidence in the court's view and their answer was “the election residue was a poisoned chalice”.

On the issue of the 40,000 alleged disenfranchised voters, Justice Luke Malaba said the allegations were too general and there was no evidence from Chamisa to substantiate the claim.

As for reactions to the decision. As among Herald readers, the paper says they are mixed.

"ZanuPF supporters took to the streets of Harare, painting the city green as they celebrated their party’s victory," NewsDay reports.

"Other dejected Harare residents said they will simply move on with their lives after the ruling."

The paper quotes a drinker in an uptown bar, who said "There was no way the court would rule against the incumbent President Mnangagwa, given that some are beneficiaries of the gravy train.".

On the other hand, "A few touts and sex workers interviewed by NewsDay said a Mnangagwa win was a guarantee of a better life."

Last but not least, NewsDay reports that soon after a unanimous court decision President-elect Mnangagwa used his official Twitter feed to call for peace and unity and invited Chamisa to work with him.

"Nelson Chamisa, my door is open and my arms are outstretched, we are one nation and we must put our nation first. Let us all now put our differences behind us. It’s time to move forward together,” he tweeted.

Opposition rejects ruling

How likely is that? Well, an opposition statement carried by the Zimbabwean, which operates from South Africa and the UK, doesn't bode well.

Under the headline "MDC-Alliance Rejects Captured Constitutional Court Ruling," the paper reports that "The MDC notes with grave concern and rejects today’s evidently captured decision of the Constitutional Court to endorse a patently sham election and to entrench an illegitimate regime that used brazen subterfuge and brutal violence to steal the people’s vote." Harsh words, indeed.

"Our message to Mr Mnangagwa is clear," it goies on. "You can rig the elections. You can capture ZEC [the electoral commission]. You can capture the judiciary. But you will never capture the people. Their will shall prevail. The people shall govern!"

So will the losers learn to live with the court ruling?

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