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Political violence not enough to nullify Zanu PF victory: judge
October 18, 2005

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s Electoral Court on Monday conceded that the ruling ZANU PF party used violence and politicised food aid to win votes but still upheld the party’s election victory in Insiza constituency saying although evidence before it was credible it did not warrant nullification of the result.

Insiza, in Matabeleland South, is one of about 12 constituencies whose results in last March’s parliamentary election are being challenged by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in what the party says is an exercise meant to demonstrate how President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party stole the vote.

ZANU PF’s Andrew Langa won in the constituency against the MDC’s Siyabonga Malandu-Ncube.

Malandu-Ncube petitioned the court to nullify the poll result saying ZANU PF had used violence to secure victory for its candidate. On three occasions, Langa had shot at MDC supporters in a bid to intimidate them, Malandu-Ncube told the court.

In a bid to ensure maximum votes for its candidate, ZANU PF had threatened to withdraw food aid to villagers who did not support its candidate, according to Malandu-Ncube.

Justice Nicholas Ndou, who heard the petition, said there was "overwhelming credibility" in most of the evidence submitted by Malandu-Ncube.

The judge also said "it appears to be true" that food was not distributed fairly in Insiza constituency. But he ruled that notwithstanding the credibility of the evidence, the court was dismissing the petition because the politicisation of food aid did not appear to have had a bearing on the result.

Ndou said Langa appeared to have a propensity for violence as alleged by Malandu-Ncube but the judge said the MDC candidate had heavily relied on evidence of violence committed in 2002 and therefore the court could not nullify the result of the election on that basis.

The judge ruled: "Although it appears to be true that food was not distributed fairly, that cannot individually warrant the nullification of the outcome because it does not appear to have had a bearing on the result … evidence led also show that the respondent (Langa) has a propensity for violence, but what is clear is that most of the petitioner’s evidence is based on the 2002 election."

The court also dismissed another separate election petition by the MDC’s Jacob Thabane who was seeking the nullification of the election victory of ZANU PF’s Obert Mpofu in Bubi-Umguza constituency.

The judge said Thabane had failed to substantiate his allegations against Mpofu.

The dismissal of the two election petitions brings to three the number of cases dismissed by the electoral court after the controversial March election won by ZANU PF.

Last week, the ZEC dismissed an election petition by the MDC’s Renson Gasela who was challenging ZANU PF’s election victory in Gweru Rural constituency.

ZANU PF won 78 out of the 120 contested seats in the general poll with the MDC garnering a paltry 41 seats. The other seat was won by former government information minister Jonathan Moyo.

But the opposition has refused to accept the March election results accusing ZANU PF of using violence and outright fraud to secure victory. ZANU PF denies the charges.

The MDC says the electoral court, which was set up earlier this year to resolve electoral disputes, lacks sufficient clout to make independent decisions. The judges are appointed to the court by Mugabe.

Critics say the veteran President, who three years ago forced several independent judges off the bench, has packed Zimbabwe’s courts with loyalist judges. - ZimOnline

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