October 2, 2003

Court Dismisses Tsvangirai's application against Presidential elections

The High Court dismissed an application by MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai seeking an order to reject the evidence of two of the respondents in his petition challenging the results of last year's presidential election. Mr Tsvangirai wanted the court not to consider the evidence of the Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede and the Minister of Justice Legal Parliamentary Affairs Cde Patrick Chinamasa. But Justice Susan Mavangira dismissed the application by saying if the court rejected the evidence of the two it would effectively be nullifying the results of the presidential election as sought by Mr Tsvangirai in the main election petition challenging the outcome of the poll.

Justice Mavangira said Mr Tsvangirai was seeking the setting aside of the election on the basis that Mr Mudede and Cde Chinamasa had failed to comply with principles of the Electoral Act. She, however, said in that regard section 149 of the Electoral Act was relevant.

The section states that an election shall be set aside by the High Court by reason of any mistake or non-compliance with provisions of the Act and only if it appeared to the High Court that the election was not conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the Act and such mistake or non-compliance did affect the result of the election.

In October last year, Mr Tsvangirai successfully applied for a provisional order directing Mr Mudede to transfer all the election material used in the country's 120 constituencies in the presidential election to Harare for safe keeping. The provisional order was granted by Justice Makoni and later confirmed by Justice Yunis Omerjee the following month. This was after Mr Mudede failed to oppose the conformation of the order sought by Mr Tsvangirai. Mr Mudede had also submitted that since the voting system was done manually, the election material was bulky, making it impossible for him to transfer it to Harare. Mr Mudede failed to comply with the court order citing financial constraints facing his office. On more than two occasions Mr Mudede sought assistance from the court on how best he could deal with the matter but with little success.

In his submission, Mr Tsvangirai's lawyer Advocate Adrian de Bourbon had argued that Mr Mudede and Cde Chinamasa had failed to comply with three court orders in terms of the law. (The Herald, Harare)

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