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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Komichi’s electoral fraud trial set to resume Tuesday
    Nomalanga Moyo, SW Radio Africa

    September 13, 2013

    The trial of MDC-T chief polling agent Morgan Komichi, who is facing electoral fraud charges, will continue Tuesday with his lawyers continuing to quiz Electoral Commission (ZEC) official Tendai Pamire.

    Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama said indications were that about 15 witnesses will take to the stand before the court reaches a verdict.

    Komichi was arrested on July 28th, just two days before the polls and, since then, has been held at Chikurubi Remand Prison, with several bail pleas turned down.

    Komichi’s lawyers say the MDC-T agent responded to a tip off about an envelope containing a ballot paper that had been dumped in a dustbin located at the Special Vote processing centre.

    After verifying the contents, Komichi submitted the envelope to ZEC which however queried how he had acquired the envelope and accused him of tampering with the ballots.

    Last Monday under cross-examination, Pamire said he could not recall details concerning the ballot papers allegedly found in Komichi’s possession.

    Pamire said he did not handle the ballots, and neither took a close look at them or checked whether or not they were marked.

    After Muchadehama reminded Pamire that he had said in a statement to the police that there were three ballot papers marked in favour of MDC-T, the ZEC official said it was merely a declaration of what had transpired during a meeting at ZEC. The lawyer accused Pamire of displaying “a faulty memory”.

    Komichi denies the charges against him, with the MDC-T party saying his arrest and detention is part of a wider onslaught against its members by Zanu-PF.

    In a statement Monday, the party said it notes, “with concern the incarceration of its members and officials including national deputy chairman (Morgan) Komichi.”

    “This continued incarceration and detention is part of the ongoing harassment of MDC members and officials by the state agents using the criminal justice system,” the MDC-T said.

    Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum director Abel Chikomo’s wait for justice continues after his trial was postponed from Monday to October 14th.

    The State accuses Chikomo of conducting a survey on transitional justice without first being registered under the country’s Private Voluntary Act.

    The state further alleges that Chikomo instructed two researchers to unlawfully obtain people’s recommendations on the preferred transitional justice mechanism for Zimbabwe.

    The accusations, which Chikomo denies, have been on and off since February 2011, with the State at one point withdrawing the summons against him.

    Over the past two years Chikomo has been asked to report to the police several times and interrogated and on his organisation’s activities.

    Chikomo would not speak to SW Radio Africa about his trial but the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights last week said the case was “yet another official harassment of civic organisations and human rights defenders.”

    Other human rights activists who have been persecuted by the State through the judicial system include Jestina Mukoko, director of campaign group Zimbabwe Peace Project Trust.

    Mukoko, whose case is yet to be concluded, was arrested in March and similarly accused of operating an “unregistered” and “unlawful” organisation.

    Also in March, prominent rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was handcuffed and detained for more than a week after she asked to see a warrant police officers were using to search her clients’ premises. Mtetwa was accused of “obstructing or defeating the course of justice”, and is facing a drawn-out court process in what analysts say is a ploy by the Zanu-PF-aligned judiciary to silence critics.

    SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwe's Independent Voice and broadcasts on Short Wave 4880 KHz in the 60m band.

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