10 April 2008

Zimbabwe: ZEC Officials Appear in Court

Harare — Eight Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officers from Mashonaland West, Gweru, Mutare and Binga accused of electoral fraud during the hamornised March 29 elections have appeared in court.

Masimba Kadzimu (46), Cuthbert Maambirwi (41) and Ranganayi Chisepo (47) -- who were based at the Zvimba North constituency command centre -- appeared in a Chinhoyi court on allegations of depriving Zanu-PF of 51 senate votes yesterday.

Shadreck Mufute (47) who is the Hartzell Central Primary School headmaster appeared in a Mutare court while Tawanda Gonye (41), Samuel Mutanda (32), Sihle Mabhena (45) and Mbuliswa Mathe (44) appeared in the Binga court.

Midlands Provincial Elections officer Docas Mpofu (50) was not formally charged when she appeared before Gweru Provincial Magistrate, Mrs Auxillia Chiwumburu on allegations of sending wrong results to the national command centre in Harare.

Kadzimu, Maambirwi and Chisepo were remanded out of custody on free bail to April 23 after Chinhoyi magistrate Mr Ignatius Mugova had argued that the Electoral Act stipulated a fine of $10 million and does not provide for imprisonment.

The State had however, opposed bail.

The three were arrested after investigations had shown that in the final tally of the senate results, Zanu-PF lost votes which it had won during the initial count while MDC-Tsvangirai benefited.

Mufute was arrested this week on allegations of depriving President Mugabe of 10 votes, which he allegedly gave to Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential race.

When he first appeared in court on Tuesday, Mufute had applied for refusal of remand but Mutare provincial magistrate, Mr Livingstone Zimuto Chipadza, dismissed the application.

The provincial magistrate however, granted Mufute $600 million bail and ordered him to continue residing at Hartzell Primary School until the matter was finalised.

Mr Chipadza also ordered Mufute who will appear in court on April 23 to report at Old Mutare Police Base every Friday between 6am and 6pm.

The State led by Mr Arnold Chiwara and Mr Oliver Marwa had opposed bail but Mr Chipadza ruled that the delivery of justice must be balanced with the individual's rights and there was need "to guard against overzealous law enforcement."

Mufute who spent a night in remand prison was remanded in absentia after the Zimbabwe Prisons Service failed to bring inmates to court because of transport problems.

Gonye, Mutanda, Mabhena and Mathe were not formally charged when they briefly appeared before Binga resident magistrate, Mr Stephen Ndlovu who remanded them in custody to April 22.

The prosecutor, Miss Sikhangezile Dube, told the court that the four were polling officers during the harmonised elections and were posted to Binga North and South constituencies.

Allegations are that on March30 Gonye and Mutanda posted wrong senate results for Binga constituency giving the MDC-Tsvangirai candidate more votes.

The State also alleges that Mabhena and Mathe, who are facing two counts of fraud also posted wrong results outside the constituency command centre indicating that the house of Assembly candidate for MDC-Tsvangirai Mr Herbert Sinampande Madolo had polled 16 92 votes instead of 16 493.

It is also the State's case that the duo posted results indicating that Cde Veronica Munkuli of Zanu-PF had polled 2 794 votes instead of 2 798.

The State is also alleging that the pair posted wrong results for the presidential polls indicating that Morgan Tsvangirai had polled 14 619 instead of 16 221, President Mugabe 2 326 votes instead of 2 386 and Mr Langton Towungana 107 votes instead of 111 votes.

Mpofu is being held in custody after her lawyers Mr Peter Dzimba of Dzimba, Jaravaza and Associates, had their bail application opposed by the prosecutor, Mr Talent Tadenyika. Mrs Chiwumburu will make her ruling on the application today. Several other arrests were made in Matabeleland North, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central provinces where ZEC officers are being accused of among other things prejudicing Zanu-PF presidential candidate Cde Mugabe of 4 993 votes.

It's alleged that the officers altered figures on V11 and V13 forms. The inconsistencies were detected when the forms were scrutinised. A V11 form is an original document carrying results at polling stations and is signed by all agents of contesting parties. After the signing of the V11 form, information is then recorded on the V13 forms that collate polling station results within a ward.

But Mutare lawyers Messrs Trust Maanda and Akisayi Dhliwayo who appeared for Mufute queried the authenticity of the V13 form at the centre of controversy arguing that Mufute neither prepared nor signed it.

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