MDC vice-chairperson Tendai Biti, who is being charged for announcing false presidential election results, has demanded that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) produce a server in court to prove that utterances were wrong.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The Harare East MP has pleaded not guilty to the charge, and also successfully argued that his trial be broadcast live.
The State alleges that Biti’s statement that ”we have now received from our agents across the country results of the 2018 elections, results show beyond reasonable doubt that we have won this election and that the next President of Zimbabwe is Advocate Nelson Chamisa” was in violation of the law.
But through his lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, Biti demanded that the Zec server be produced in court to prove that his announcement was wrong.
Mtetwa said Biti only exercised his right as he was confined within the statutes of section 66 sub-sections 3(a) of the Electoral Act, which allows the political party members to announce tallied results from polling stations and constituencies.
She said Biti’s statement must not be criminalised and said the trial can only continue after the High Court give a ruling on the matter in which he was challenging a Harare magistrate’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Biti says he could only be tried in Zambia, whose High Court ruled against his deportation when he fled into the neighbouring country seeking asylum.
Mtetwa said the State had confirmed that Zec destroyed evidence despite knowledge of the trial.
“It would be a gross violation of the accused’s right to a fair hearing to deny him access to a server held by Zec for and on behalf of the electorate. The server will speak to what information was posted at each polling station and each constituency with regards to presidential elections,” Mtetwa said.
Prosecutor Tafadzwa Mpariwa asked for the postponement of the matter to allow him to go through the 56-page (application for exception).
The court postponed the matter to today for the State’s response on the application for exception.
Biti’s trial would be broadcast live after the court ruled in favour of the request by Mtetwa to have a live streaming of criminal proceedings.
Mtetwa told magistrate Gloria Takundwa that the trial can be live-streamed without disturbing any ground rules of the court.