Advocates Detail the Zimbabwe Election Case
By Suhail Mohammed
Legal experts discuss the recent litigation brought by the MDC following the recent Zimbabwean election
It is a commonly held belief here at WITS that the annual blooming of the jacarandas is to signify the beginning of a period in which students forsake the lion’s share of their extra-curricular activities, and focus on preparing for their exams, which are now as clearly discernible on the horizon as is the Hillbrow Tower. This, however, was not the case on Wednesday 10 October, when law students either filed into the Chalsty Auditorium, or rushed onto the live streaming link, to a panel discussion regarding the legal challenge of the outcome of the recent Zimbabwean elections.
The panel discussion was hosted by the WITS branch of Students for Law and Social Justice and the Wits School of Law’s Research Chair on Equality, Law and Social Justice - The panellists included legal lodestar, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi; the people’s advocate, Dali Mpofu SC (which was especially exciting, given the proximity of the SRC elections); and much acclaimed international jurist, Arnold Tsunga. Proceedings were coordinated by law school’s very own Prof Cathi Albertyn, a constitutional scholar.
Ngcukaitobi and Mpofu shed light upon even the tiniest of details regarding the MDC litigation. These enthralling recollections filled in the many gaps that students had come across while following the case via the media, and left students with a deeper and far more sophisticated understanding of this matter, and the manner in which it wasdecided.
While Ngcukaitobi explained the legal meat and bones of the case, Mpofu SC expanded upon the political implications that such a case can have, especially in a political climate as fragile as Zimbabwe’s. This component of the discussion was of particular interest to a majority of the students who were present at the event, as we are all well aware of the political lifeblood that courses through the veins of the average WITS law student. This is not to say that the legal technicalities were under-appreciated, as Ngcukaitobi found himself engaging with various students on the legal hoops that must be traversed in the handling of such a matter.
Tsuna was next, and he expounded upon the role of international organisations - specifically the African Union - in the matter at hand. His discussion touched upon the basic tenets of international law, as applied to the Zimbabwean transfer of executive authority, and the impact that these laws can have in the resolution of litigious challenges such as the MDC’s. This, too, attracted the attention of many a student, specifically those who have recently acquainted themselves with the intricacies of public international law.