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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Tsvangirai’s chief polling agent to remain in custody until August 14th
    Nomalanga Moyo, SW Radio Africa
    July 30, 2013

    View this article here on the SW Radio Africa website

    Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s polling officer Morgan Komichi will not be able to vote Wednesday, after he was denied bail in a case in which he exposed irregularities in the way the Electoral Commission handled the Special Vote.

    Komichi’s lawyers applied for bail Monday but in her ruling Tuesday, Harare Magistrate Anita Tshuma dismissed the application, arguing that police needed time to complete their investigations.

    Komichi will remain in custody until his next court appearance on August 14th, unless his lawyers decide to appeal the decision at the High Court.

    Defence lawyer Tarisai Mutangi told SW Radio Africa that the magistrate based her ruling on the State’s case that Komichi would interfere with witnesses.

    “The magistrate ruled that the matter of was of great public interest as we are on the verge of an important election. She added that since Komichi’s so-called accomplices were still at large, he was likely to interfere with police investigations if released,” Mutangi said.

    Mutangi said his team will be meeting to decide on the way forward in light of the ruling, which he said violated Komichi’s rights.

    “The law clearly states that anyone who appears in court facing criminal charges is entitled to immediate bail unless the State can prove that the ends of justice will not be met if that person is granted bail.

    “The State failed to provide any evidence to support their argument that Komichi would either abscond or interfere with witnesses or commit a similar offence.

    “We will be discussing our options including an appeal. We feel that this is a great inconvenience not only to Komichi but also to the MDC-T party whose key officer has been taken out of the elections context in very dubious circumstances.”

    Despite the bail setback, Mutangi said Komichi was taking his incarceration “in his stride, buoyed by support from his family and colleagues in the MDC-T.”

    Komichi, who is also the MDC-T deputy minister of transport, is accused of fraudulently acquiring and tampering with an envelope containing ballot papers.

    His party says Komichi responded to an anonymous tip-off that some ballots had been retrieved from a dustbin located at the Harare International Conference Centre, which was being used as a Special Vote processing centre.

    Komichi then passed the ballots on to ZEC, which admitted that the papers were authentic. However, on Sunday ZEC complained to the police about the credibility of Komichi’s version of how he got the ballots, leading to the arrest.

    On Monday, MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said it was not possible for Komichi to reveal details of the anonymous source. The police have already said “as long as he refuses to disclose the identity of this person, he becomes the prime suspect.”

    Both the MDC-T and the defence team say the arrest is a classic case of “shooting the messenger”, and is meant to deflect attention from the gross electoral irregularities that Komichi exposed.

    “He ought to be the complainant in this matter and ZEC must be the one in the dock explaining how crucial voting material was found in a dustbin outside of their Command Centre,” defence lawyer Makoni told the court Monday.

    His sentiments were echoed by both Mwonzora and MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa.

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

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