From Farai Mutsaka
Harare was under strict security controls on Wednesday when the Constitutional Court began hearing the challenge of the main opposition party with regard to the results of the historic presidential election last month.
The police barricaded the streets around the court in the center of Harare amid high tensions over the crucial issue that will determine whether President Emmerson Mnangagwa's election victory is valid.
The opposition claims that the vote contains "gross mathematical errors" and seeks a new election or a statement that its candidate Nelson Chamisa is the winner of the vote of 30 July.
* The Zimbabwean election committee declared Mnangagwa in a narrow way with 50.8 percent of the votes, avoiding a reproduction. Chamisa got 44.3 percent, the committee said.
"It is as if a child is playing with the figures", a lawyer from the opposition, Thabani Mpofu, told the court. He claimed that 16 polling stations had identical results and that "mass killing" took place.
Mpofu told the court that the election commission had produced three sets of voting results from the president, including one in court cases in which the committee downgraded Mnangagwa's profit to 50.67 percent.
The committee attributed this to an "error", but argued that it was not significant enough to invalidate the profit.
Mpofu said that Chamisa had lost more than 69,000 votes in total, well over the 31,000 votes that allowed Mnangagwa to prevent an election election.
"On that basis, a drain is inevitable," Mpofu said.
Supreme Judge Luke Malaba, however, pressed the opposition for the original election results to support their allegations: "We can not act on generals."
"The jurisprudence and political burden that weighs heavily on the shoulders of each of the judges of the Constitutional Court today is that they are about to judge by far the most important case of their legal career," wrote Welshman Ncube, a ally of Chamisa and constitutional lawyer Twitter.
Before the hearing began around 10 a.m. (0800 GMT), the lawyers of Chamisa Zimbabwe's Minister of Justice, Ziyambi Ziyambi, accused the refusal of temporary work permits to three South African members of their team.
The judges let the three continue to work in court for the court. Ziyambi declined to comment on contact with Reuters.
Mnangagwa and the election committee argue that the opposition's application must be rejected on the grounds of a technical point because it was submitted too late and the newspapers were not properly served to the respondents.
In his sworn statement, Mnangagwa states that the court should not hear Chamisa's request for "scandalizing" the court by claiming during political meetings that the judiciary was biased against the ruling party, ZANU-PF.
The case was broadcast live by the state channel, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, but the court ruled that the proceedings could not be livestreamed on social media. Journalists and others accredited by the court followed a procedure on a giant television screen in the courtroom, but they were not allowed to take mobile phones or laptops with them.
Chamisa's lawyers in court said they also should not have taken electronic gadgets with them.
According to Veritas, a legal think tank based in Harare, the court can declare a winner or declare the elections invalid and call for a new election or make another order that she finds "correct and appropriate".
If the court upheld Mnangagwa's victory, the inauguration would take place within 48 hours.
This is not the first time that the opposition has challenged election results in court. After the presidential election of 2013, head opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai presented a challenge, but later withdrew it with the argument that he would not receive fair hearing. The court refused his withdrawal and proceeded to decide the matter in favor of Mugabe. Associated Press