GOVERNMENT is preparing for the inauguration of President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa early next week, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.

“We have been holding meetings preparing for the president’s inauguration. A committee was set up, which is handling the preparations for the event which, as of now, is to be held at the National Sports Stadium,” a top government source said.

“As you may be aware, it is all dependent on whether Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) files their petition with the courts. But as of now we are working with possibly Monday or Tuesday.”

The ruling Zanu PF party said yesterday the government will press ahead with the inauguration next week unless its disgruntled rivals approach the courts to challenge the presidential election result.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been under pressure since last week’s elections to explain a string of logistical gridlock.

The CCC has rejected the presidential results and is calling for fresh elections under the supervision of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and African Union.

Mnangagwa beat his closest rival by eight percentage points after garnering 52,6% of nearly 4,5 million votes cast, compared to Chamisa’s 44%.

Zec this week formalised the results through an Extraordinary Government Gazette

Chamisa has until Saturday at midnight to challenge the results at the Constitutional Court.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Farai Marapira, Zanu PF’s acting director of communications, said there was nothing so far indicating that Mnangagwa’s inauguration will not proceed as planned.

“From our side as long as the opposition is speaking in newspapers and not in courts of law, there is no reason for us not to continue with our preparations,” Marapira said. “Remember, Zanu PF is not the convener of elections. Zanu PF is just a co-participant.”

Marapira said if the opposition was serious about its concerns, it should have taken its grievances to Zec.

He maintained that CCC’s “rhetoric” was not enough to stop Mnangagwa’s inauguration.

“If they have anything tangible, the courts of the land are there for them and they are free to pursue legal challenges and see what happens,” Marapira said.

“As far as I am concerned, in the absence of that, there is no reason for us not to continue with preparations for inauguration.”

Local, regional and international observer missions raised concerns over the manner in which Zec conducted the elections.

They said the election fell short of regional and international standards and cast doubt over its credibility.

These include the Sadc, the African Union, the European Union and Commonwealth observer missions, which all gave adverse reports.

However, a top CCC official said Mnangagwa’s inauguration will not correct the “illegitimacy cloud” hovering over Zimbabwe.

“Their (Zanu PF) stance against Sadc and observers doesn’t help. This country has been isolated for a long time and we need to cure that issue,” he said.

“What people don’t understand is (former president Robert) Mugabe was once inaugurated in a race in which he had contested alone and he was congratulated and given messages like what is being done.

“So everything being done, such as inauguration or (Extraordinary Government) Gazette, doesn’t matter because it doesn’t cure illegitimacy.”