9 August 2013

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Files Concourt Presidential Appeal

Morgan Tsvangirai's Constitutional Court appeal, in which he is challenging the results of the recent electoral process, was filed by his lawyers late Friday.

Tsvangirai's lawyers filed their ConCourt appeal, despite failing to get crucial evidence from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

On Thursday the MDC-T had filed two appeals in the High Court seeking to compel the Electoral Commission to release material related to the just-ended elections. But the High Court said August 14th was the earliest date in which it can hear this urgent petition.

Tsvangirai and the MDC-T want the outcome of the July 31st election nullified, arguing that the process was fraught with too many irregularities to be allowed to stand as a credible reflection of the will of the people.

Tarisai Mutangi who filed one of the applications, told SW Radio Africa the decision by High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu to delay their urgent application was a "disappointing" setback.

He said: "We were hoping to use the material obtained from ZEC in our ConCourt application, which we are filing later today (Friday).

"But we got a call this morning from the High Court indicating that the matter had been set down for the morning of August 14th. This means we have no choice but to proceed with the ConCourt application without this crucial piece of evidence."

The lawyer said it was not clear why the matter could not be heard Friday or Saturday, but the delay is set to be greeted with much glee within ZANU PF and ZEC's corridors, as both are denying any electoral misconduct.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti approached ZEC Monday with a similar request for election material but was ignored - leading to the current High Court bid.

Through the two applications, Tsvangirai wants access to the full presidential results per constituency, copies of the voters' roll used in all the polling stations and copies of the voters' roll used in the special voting process held July 14th-16th.

The MDC-T leader also wants ZEC to provide a register of those who managed to cast their votes during the special voting days, plus a register of those authorised to vote, but were not able to cast their ballots and reasons for such failure.

Tsvangirai also wants access to the register of assisted voters at all polling stations in the election, copies of voters' roll used in postal voting delimited by ward and constituency, copies of the electronic voters' roll as at July 31st, the register of voters whose names did not appear in the voters' roll, but were allowed to vote using voter registration slips, register of authorised postal and special voters and contents of the closed and sealed ballot boxes and sealed packets delivered to the Commission's Lovemore Sekeramayi.

Sekeramayi, ZEC's chief elections officer, registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede, and President Robert Mugabe were named as first, second, and third respondents respectively.

Tsvangirai had hoped to use the requested material to bolster his ConCourt presidential election petition, but the delay now means his lawyers have been left with no choice but to go to court minus this crucial evidence.

However, former MDC-T deputy legal affairs minister Obert Gutu told this station that the party had enough evidence to file their ConCourt challenge: "We do have sufficient evidence gathered during the course of the flawed process."

But one of the lawyers handling the case said the August 14th date, for a petition filed as urgent, appeared to be designed to ensure that the evidence gleaned from ZEC material is excluded from the ConCourt appeal.

"This certainly renders our urgent appeal for access to the material redundant as the deadline for the ConCourt challenge is Saturday. Any further evidence gathered after the petition has been filed cannot be submitted," he said.

The ConCourt challenge is expected to be in phases, with the presidential poll outcome taking precedence, followed by House of Assembly results petition, which lawyer Mutangi said can be filed after Saturday.

Mugabe won 61% of the presidential votes, Tsvangirai 33.9%, in a process widely condemned as fraudulent and engineered towards a ZANU PF and Mugabe win.

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