Zim to allow live broadcast of presidential court challenge on Wednesday

In a first for Zimbabwe, the court challenge to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory will be broadcast live on state television, local reports say.

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) granted a request by the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to televise proceedings live.

Space challenges

This will be the first time that a court case has been broadcast live. Zimbabwe’s courts usually ban journalists from recording proceedings other than with notebooks and pens.

“I can confirm that JSC has noted the request to broadcast live proceedings of the Constitutional Court challenge on the Presidential results and authorised State broadcaster ZBC TV and its selected radio platforms to broadcast,” the commission’s acting secretary, Walter Chikwana told the Sunday Mail

“Due to space challenges, the state broadcaster will distribute live signal feeds to other broadcasters who may be interested in covering the court proceedings,” he said.

Biased coverage

Opposition MDC Alliance politician David Coltart expressed concerns over allowing ZBC to have control over the broadcast, saying it is biased in favour of Mnangagwa, whose election win on July 30 is being challenged by MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa.

“There is nothing to prevent them from cutting off argument from Chamisa’s lawyers,” Coltart wrote on Twitter.

News site New Zimbabwe suggested the commission’s decision to grant sole broadcasting rights to ZBC could be seen as “a government revenue generating strategy… as any attempt to piggyback on its feed comes with revenue inflows to it.”

“ZBC also has its own capacity constraints as some of its broadcasts are not easily accessible among Zimbabweans living in remote areas and abroad,” it said.

Chamisa’s MDC Alliance party has assembled a high-profile team of lawyers, including South Africa’s Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi to argue in support of his claim that he was cheated out of victory in the July 30 poll.

But others maintain the challenge has little hope of success. Former MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu - who now backs Chamisa rival Thokazani Khupe - said on Twitter this week that it was "much ado about nothing".

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