Supreme Court spares Tsvangirai’s lawyers

The Supreme Court today reversed an order made by High Court Judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, in August last year calling for the arrest of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s lawyers on allegations of filing court documents containing disparaging remarks about the judiciary.

The lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, Tarisai Mutangi and Advocate Lewis Uriri represented Tsvangirai after the contested July 31 elections won by President Robert Mugabe and sought an urgent order compelling the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release election material used during the polls.

This, they said, would enable the former Prime Minister to lodge his presidential election petition in the Constitutional Court.

However, in a previous dossier, Tsvangirai had accused the judiciary of siding with Zanu (PF) as the judges were appointed by Mugabe.

Bhunu recommended that the Attorney-General of the Prosecuting Authority should take appropriate action against the lawyers for their remarks against the judicial system.

Said Bhunu: “Time has come to rein in errant legal practitioners bent on bringing the court’s integrity into disrepute. That type of conduct cannot be tolerated by these courts.”

However, today the Supreme Court bench comprising Deputy Chief Justice, Luke Malaba and judges Paddington Garwe and Ben Hlatswayo granted an appeal against the judgement by Bhunu.

In reading the judgement, Malaba said: “The appeal versus the judgement of the Court succeeds with no order as to costs to the extent that the part of the order referring to the allegedly contemptuous conduct of the appellant and legal practitioners who represented him in the application be referred to the Attorney General of the National Prosecuting Authority for investigation and the part of the order directing the applicant to pay costs be and are hereby set aside.”

The Supreme Court ruled as well that Tsvangirai’s application in which he sought an order compelling ZEC to give him the July 31 election material was not urgent and should be removed from the court roll.

Lawyers representing the respondents in Tsvangirai’s case concurred as well that there was no evidence to support Bhunu’s claims of contemptuous behaviour by the MDC-T leader’s legal team.

Tsvangirai’s application had cited ZEC Chairperson, Rita Makarau, ZEC Chief Elections Officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi, ZEC, the Registrar General of Voters and Mugabe as the first, second, third, fourth and fifth respondents, respectively.

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