ConCourt endorses Mugabe as Judge Bhunu targets Tsvangirai’s lawyers

The Constitutional Court led by Godfrey Chidyausiku declared Robert Mugabe the rightful and duly elected winner of the July 31st election, in a ruling delivered Tuesday.

The judge also dismissed with costs MDC-T leaders Morgan Tsvangirai’s legal challenge against the poll outcome, which the MDC-T leader had already withdrawn.

In the ruling Chidyausiku declared the elections free, fair and credible. He said the presidential polls were held in accordance with the country’s laws and reflected the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

Chidyausiku insisted on hearing the petition, which Tsvangirai withdrew Friday, arguing that not proceeding with it would have meant that there would be no specified winner from the election, and therefore a ‘vacuum’.

Ironically, a similar petition lodged by Tsvangirai after the 2002 presidential election was never finalised, yet Mugabe went on to serve a five-year term.

MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said it was Mugabe’s habit to run one-man races: “In 2008, President Mugabe ran a one-man race and was declared president. In 2013, he has run a one-man petition and won it. As we said yesterday (Monday), we had withdrawn this petition and have absolutely no interest in it.”

“But what is of concern to us is that the ConCourt has made a decision which affects the other 95 petitions which have been filed in the Electoral Court,” Mwonzora added.

“By declaring that the election was free, fair and credible that puts paid to the election petitions appearing before another court,” Mwonzora said.

Mwonzora said despite this, the MDC-T will not abandon its fight for justice and the rule of law in the country.

He said that his party found itself being forced to withdraw its challenge because it had been denied the election material needed to support their case that process was manipulated.

Meanwhile, High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu also dismissed two other petitions filed by Tsvangirai seeking access to election records. The MDC-T leader had hoped to use the records to prove to the ConCourt that the recent elections were massively rigged and should be nullified.

In the application Tsvangirai wanted the court to order the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to let him inspect poll records for vote rigging evidence.

Last week Thursday, High Court Judge Bhunu reserved judgement on the case indefinitely, forcing the MDC-T to quit its ConCourt bid.

However on Tuesday, Bhunu not only delivered his ruling but also recommended the arrest and prosecution of Tsvangirai’s lawyers on contempt of court charges.

According to state media reports, “the prosecution will be for the ‘averments’ made by the MDC-T leader against the judiciary”.

The judge was apparently riled by Tsvangirai’s concerns that he would not get a fair hearing as the courts have consistently ruled in Mugabe’s favour wherever a case between the two is heard.

Tsvangirai was represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri and Chris Mhike.

A lawyer close to the Electoral Court cases said they were yet to see Bhunu’s ruling.

The MDC-T’s Mwonzora it was unfortunate that the High Court was instituting criminal charges against Tsvangirai’s lawyers.

“It is very unfortunate that people who appear before the courts as lawyers have no security,” Mwonzora said.

He slammed Bhunu for withholding judgement on the election material, only to deliver it on the same day as the ConCourt case, saying: “We find that very unfair because Bhunu knew why we needed that material.”

Mwonzora cited the death in remand prison last week of MDC-T activist Rebecca Mafukeni who was accused with 28 others of the murder of a police inspector in 2011. Bhunu is the presiding judge and last month reserved judgement on the application for discharge by the activists’ lawyers. – SW Radio Africa News

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