Zim court convicts, fines Biti for contravening Electoral Act

By Court Reporter

HARARE Magistrate Gloria Takundwa on Monday 18 February 2019 sentenced
human rights lawyer and MDC-Alliance Vice-Chairperson Hon. Tendai Biti
to pay $200 fine after convicting him for contravening some provisions
of the Electoral Act.

Magistrate Takundwa convicted Hon. Biti after ruling that the State
had managed to prove its case against the Harare East constituency
legislator beyond any reasonable doubt.

Hon. Biti had been on trial after he was arrested in August 2018 and
charged with contravening section 66(A)(1) and 66A(1)(b) of the
Electoral Act for allegedly unlawfully and unofficially announcing the
30 July 2018
presidential election results.

During trial, Hon. Biti, who was represented by Beatrice Mtetwa and
Alec Muchadehama of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, pleaded not
guilty to the charges and challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear
his case on the basis that he was seized and unlawfully brought into
Zimbabwe from Zambia in violation of the deportation and asylum laws
of Zambia and of an order of court issued by the High Court in Zambia
in breach of international law regarding the extradition of people
facing offences of a political
nature.

In mitigation, Muchadehama argued that there was no longer any need to
impose any punishment on the human rights lawyer as he had endured
punishment already when his fundamental rights were curtailed since
August 2018 including attacks and harassment targeted at himself, his
family and relatives and being asked to report three times a day at
Harare Central Police Station.

In aggravation, State prosecutor Jonathan Murombedzi had urged
Magistrate Takundwa to sentence Hon. Biti to serve one-year in prison
arguing that imposing payment of a fine or serving community service
would trivialise the matter.

On Monday 18 February 2019, Hon. Biti evaded serving jail time after
he paid the $200 fine. Magistrate Takundwa had said failure by Hon.
Biti to pay the $200 fine would result in him being sentenced to serve
seven days in prison.