Beatrice Mtetwa, the lawyer representing MDC Alliance principal Tendai Biti yesterday grilled State witness and investigating officer Chief Superintendent Jealous Nyabasa for allegedly playing dumb and professing ignorance over provisions of the Electoral Act which the State claims were violated by the opposition politician.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Biti who is accused of public violence and violating the Electoral Act after he announced MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa as the victor of the July 30 presidential poll basing on the results of V11 forms pasted at polling stations, appeared before magistrate Francis Mapfumo.
Mtetwa had asked Nyabasa if he had any expertise on electoral laws basing on the evidence he provided in court on Wednesday that Biti committed an offence when he announced the results to his associates, to which the witness replied in the negative.
The human rights defender then asked Nyabasa why he had interpreted the law to the court that Biti committed an offence when he announced the results when he did not read and understand the Electoral Act.
“So why did you base your evidence on how election results are pronounced when you did not even read the Electoral Act? So you want to interpret the law to court when you did not read the Electoral Act,” Mtetwa said.
Nyabasa told court that Biti pronounced the results through a video which went viral on social media, international media and YouTube. He told the court that when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced the results they used electronic and print media just as what Biti did.
But Mtetwa asked if Biti had announced the results and figures of all presidential candidates as was done by Zec. Nyabasa insisted the manner Biti acted was an offence.
Mtetwa told court that Biti did not commit an offence as electoral laws allow a member of a political party to announce and report about the figures attained based on the polling station-based results.
Nyabasa was asked to read the Electoral Act section 66 which authorises the publication of polling returns by the contesting party.
On Biti’s arrest, Mtetwa told court that the police had never intended to arrest Biti since his lawyers engaged the CID Law and Order section on several occasions.
Mtetwa said one of Biti’s lawyers, Harrison Nkomo went as far as writing to Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga asking if they still wanted to interview his client.
She said despite police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba insistence on August 1 to 7 that the police wanted to interview Biti, there was no record at the police station that they wanted him as they were told he was not on the wanted list.
“After Nkomo found no joy at the police station, he wrote a letter to the Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to ascertain if they still wanted to interview Biti but until now he is yet to respond and that shows he was not on the wanted list,” Mtetwa told court.
But Nyabasa opposed the notion saying the announcement by Charamba was enough for Biti to report to the police station as they were not in the habit of calling suspects to the police station.
Magistrate Mapfumo postponed the matter to today for continuation.
Biti is challenging his placement on remand and the court’s jurisdiction, saying he was improperly before the Harare court since he was abducted from Zambia by the Zimbabwean security agents.
The State is represented by Michael Reza and Jonathan Murombedzi.