15 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Biti in Bizarre Testimony

MDC-T secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti yesterday claimed that youths from West Africa were flown in to vote at a polling station in Mt Pleasant constituency during last year's harmonised elections.

Mr Biti told the Electoral Court that on voting day, he went to a polling station at the corner of Churchill and Hellier roads in Mt Pleasant and found two queues.

"(The) people in the queue immediately struck me, my Lord," said Mr Biti while testifying in an election petition brought by MDC-T's losing candidate, Mr Jameson Timba, who is seeking to reverse Cde Jason Passade's victory in Mt Pleasant.

"They were youthful, whose ages ranged from 15 to 19 and clean-shaven ... what we call in Shona mazuda. Their clothes were old-fashioned, rustic or archaic so to speak."

Continued Mr Biti: "Even their skin texture was of West Africa, they were very dark, this struck me, my Lord."

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu asked Mr Biti if he had inquired about their nationality, to which he responded: "I have no evidence, but I don't believe these people were Zimbabweans."

He said when he tried to engage them in a conversation in Shona and English they remained mute and could not name a single street in Mt Pleasant.

Mr Biti said he went into two Zupco buses parked near the polling station and tried to talk to the occupants, who again allegedly did not respond and instead fled while shielding their faces.

"I got into the bus. I saw blankets, shopping bags that are normally used by cross-borders, chicken carcasses and empty Chicken Inn fast food boxes strewn everywhere in one of the buses," he said.

Under cross-examination by Cde Passade's lawyer, Mr Joseph Mandizha, Mr Biti conceded that Zimbabwe's electoral laws were generally good but could be abused.

"The majority of our citizens are honest but the law as it stands, it can actually be abused," said Mr Biti.

Mr Mandizha put it to Mr Biti that he won in his constituency without an electronic voters' roll. Mr Timba claims one of his handicaps in the poll was that he did not have the e-roll.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission this week told the court that no party had the e-roll, and all had a manual voters' roll.

Cde Passade, who contested on a Zanu-PF ticket, polled 7 945 against Mr Timba's 3 817 in Mt Pleasant.

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