23 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Supreme Court Finds Tsvangirai's Election Case "Not Urgent"

Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's legal efforts to gain access to materials from last year's disputed elections suffered a setback again Thursday, when the Supreme Court upheld a lower court's finding that the case was not an urgent matter.

The MDC-T leader filed two urgent applications at the Electoral Court in August last year, seeking an order directing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to open ballot boxes from the disputed July 31st poll.

Tsvangirai insisted there had been massive rigging and Mugabe's claim to a 61% victory was therefore fraudulent. But Justice Chinembiri Bhunu dismissed the applications saying there was no urgency. This was upheld by the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Back in August Justice Bhunu also went further to accuse Tsvangirai's lawyers of "bringing the integrity of the judiciary into disrepute" and recommended that they be prosecuted by the then Attorney General, Johannes Tomana.

The lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, Advocate Lewis Uriri and Tarisai Mutangi had simply included with their applications, a report from the MDC-T which criticized the judiciary.

"The Supreme Court disagreed with the judge of the Electoral Court, where he found that the lawyers were contemptuous or had brought the reputation of the court into disrepute. The Court found this ruling was not even necessary. It should not have been made in the first place," lawyer Mutangi told SW Radio Africa.

Regarding Tsvangirai's appeal, Mutangi said: "It means the applications are not urgent and do not have to be dealt with immediately. They are to be filed and then follow the normal procedure of all other court applications. This could mean months before the case is heard or considered."

With the Supreme Court now having upheld Justice Bhunu's dismissal, it is not clear what the MDC-T leader will do next. But more than six months have passed since the election results that he is challenging were announced. The MDC-T is participating in parliament and in local Councils.

Some observers now question the point of continuing the legal case.

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