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Biti appeal against conviction thrown out





MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti's appeal against a 2019 conviction for illegally announcing election results has been thrown out by the High Court.

High Court judges Justice Pisirayi Kwenda and Felistus Chatukuta struck his appeal off the roll after ruling that it was unnecessarily windy and confusing.

"It is an undeniable fact that Biti's grounds of appeal are long winding and agonising to go through. They make it hard for one to appreciate clearly what is being attacked by the appellant. Mrs (Beatrice) Mtetwa's submission that the sub-paragraphs were an expansion of the main ground was in essence a concession that the main grounds were not clear and concise," said the appeal judges.

"There can be little doubt that in general the grounds of appeal noted in this case are vague in nature, verbose, and argumentative. They cannot be said to be clear and concise. In some instances, the grounds purport to raise a constitutional issue on appeal and in other instances appear to attempt to mix an ordinary appeal and a seemingly constitutional application is what was termed a dog's breakfast by Justice Rita Makarau (in another case). The appeal is therefore fatally defective. Accordingly, the appeal is struck off the roll."

Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa convicted Biti on two counts of illegally announcing the results of the July 30, 2018, elections and declaring MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa the winner, although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission later declared Zanu-PF's Emmerson Mnangagwa as the victor.

Takundwa sentenced Biti to seven days in prison with the option of a US$200 fine on the first count, and gave him a wholly suspended sentence of six months' imprisonment on the second count.

Through his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Alec Muchadehama, Biti said the magistrate misdirected herself in failing to consider pre-trial violations of his rights and the illegality of his arrest.

Biti insisted that he was unlawfully before the local court as he was "abducted" by state agents from Zambia.

He felt it was only fair for him to appear before a Zambian court the day he was arrested, adding that there is a Zambian High Court order to confirm that position.

But the judges said his lawyers had slept on the job in mounting a "defective appeal."

"Undesirably, the notice of appeal in this case shows that some legal practitioners are still having difficulties properly formulating grounds of appeal," said the judges.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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