The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Nelson Chamisa on Saturday "installed" the 40-year-old lawyer as president of Zimbabwe, two months after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared by the Constitutional Court as winner of the country's July 30 presidential election.
MDC vice president Morgen Komichi declared Chamisa "duly bestowed as a president of Zimbabwe" before a packed sports stadium in Harare's Highfield high density suburb where the party was holding its 19th anniversary.
The move infuriated the ruling Zanu PF party, which described Chamisa's inauguration as treasonous, noting that Mnangagwa was the democratically-elected president of Zimbabwe. In a unanimous ruling in August, nine judges of the Constitutional Court led by Chief Justice Malaba said Chamisa failed to prove allegations of electoral fraud in the presidential election.
Section 94 of Zimbabwe's Constitution stipulates that elected officials assume office when they take, before the Chief Justice or the next most senior judge available, the oaths of president and vice-president on the ninth day after they are declared to be elected; or in the event of a challenge to the validity of their election, within 48 hours after the Constitutional Court has declared them to be the winners. Mnangagwa was inaugurated in line with these provisions of the Constitution.
But MDC chairperson Thabitha Khumalo said Chamisa's installation was done by the party, making him the people's president. "… The people of Zimbabwe have spoken and have sworn in their president who is Advocate Nelson Chamisa to be the president of Zimbabwe and the people (who attended the party rally) at Gwanzura Stadium declared him as duly elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe."
Khumalo said Chamisa is not expected to occupy the presidential palace, Zimbabwe House. "What the world must know is that our state house is not a house where Mnangagwa and where (former president Robert) Mugabe was staying and where Mnangagwa is. Our state house is in the streets, our state house is in the people."
She said the party will mobilize Zimbabweans for mass protests to claim the presidency from Mnangagwa and his ruling party after conducting a nationwide consultation process.
Reacting to Chamisa's installation, Joseph Tshuma, Zanu PF Central Committee member, said Chamisa's installation was treasonous and designed to provoke the ruling party.
"Besides being treasonous, their act has actually displayed and proved to the world which party does not uphold the rule of law and the constitution of the country made by the people of Zimbabwe … So, what they have done really is to show themselves for what they really are … people that don't obey the law, people that don't respect the constitution of Zimbabwe, people that are frivolous, they don't take anything seriously at all."
"How dare they play with the people of Zimbabwe? How dare they make us look like we are stupid and don't think?" Tshuma said.
He said Mnangagwa won the election and was duly elected president of Zimbabwe by the Constitutional Court. "There is not even a single poll observer who said our president did not win the election … These guys must not hold Zimbabwe at ransom as if they now own Zimbabwe."
According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Mnangagwa garnered over 50.6% of the votes cast in the presidential election.