The Sunday Mail
The chief expert witness in MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa’s court claim that he was robbed of the 2018 Presidential election is a man whose research has centred on fish migration behaviour and patterns.
Dr Otumba Edgar Ouko, the primary statistician Mr Chamisa has roped in to back his case, has published academic papers on subjects as disparate as fish migration, sugarcane and highway trailer traffic.
Mr Chamisa has rounded 12 expert witnesses, among them Dr Ouko whose most immediately verifiable association with poll matters is consultancy work related to evaluating the election of directors of the Kenya Sugar Board around 13 years ago.
President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa has flagged this calling of “irrelevant experts” in his opposing affidavit.
The Constitutional Court hears the case on Wednesday.
A fortnight ago, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Zanu-PF’s Cde Mnangagwa the winner of the July 30, 2018 Presidential election with 50,8 percent of the vote.
Mr Chamisa got 44,3 percent of the vote — a defeat he is challenging at the ConCourt.
But President-elect Mnangagwa has pointed out that in his challenge, Mr Chamisa is relying in fish migration experts.
The President-elect’s lawyers have told the court: “It is irrelevant and inadmissible opinion evidence by a man (Dr Ouko) whose documented research is on sugarcane and the migration patterns of fish.
“The CV of the expert, (Dr Ouko) relied on by applicant, does not show that he has done an analysis of this nature before nor does he research a conclusive position, preferring to suggest possibilities and probabilities which the applicant then adulterates to give his generalised suppositions as fact.
“The affidavit (by Dr Ouko) is irrelevant, immaterial and inadmissible …The expert has listed his publications, which include only seven ‘first author’ publications in the areas of sugar cane, fish, water, trailer traffic on highways and HIV. There are none on elections, aside from some consultancy work carried out in 2005 involving the election of a (Kenya) Sugar Board.
“While I am certain that ‘An Integrated Model for Optimising Harvesting of Fish’, or indeed the ‘Estimation of Population Sizes for Migrating Species’ are papers that those in the fishing industry might find useful, I fail to see how these qualify the author as an expert on elections.”
Mr Chamisa’s Kenyan poll “expert” claims that overall prejudice to the opposition leader because of “voter intimidation, coercion and manipulation” was 305 784 votes – figure that changes elsewhere in his affidavit.
“In fact, the ‘expert’ in his own report first states that there is an overall prejudice to the applicant of 305 784 votes (which is denied) and then without explanation changes that number some few paragraphs later to 345 784,” argues President Mnangagwa through his legal team.
“He talks of ‘over-votes’ in a total eight constituencies, with a total of 1 468 votes, which is statistically irrelevant to the total (number of votes cast across Zimbabwe), but fails to make any point about how this might have affected the results.”
The President-elect’s legal team also points out how Mr Chamisa’s “experts” contradict each other.
Mr George Nyandoro, another “expert” for the litigant, comes up with different figures from “fishy” reasearcer Dr Ouko.
“(Nyandoro) contradicts Dr Ouko by saying there were over-votes in 111 constituencies as opposed to eight (as claimed by Dr Ouko). The ‘expert’ further says that this resulted in 31 204 more votes for me, but fails to show on what basis this claim can validly be made without the ballots being unsealed,” President-elect Mnangagwa states.
And an affidavit by one Patience Mutongwizo in support of Mr Chamisa is described as something just short of Hollywood fiction.
Mutongwizo claims to have intercepted a truck with ballot papers alone at night — and sent the occupants of the vehicle, who include police officers, running away.
Another “expert” relied on by Mr Chamisa is a Jokoniah Mawopa, who refers to “surveys” that are not shared with the court and who wants his numbers to be taken as Gospel truth on the mere basis of his stated claims.
President-elect Mnangagwa wants the Constitutional Court to dismiss the application, with Mr Chamisa bearing the costs.
In addition the President-elect says the July 30 election should be recognised as conducted in accordance with the laws, and that is was free, fair, credible and transparent.