Judge Puts Spotlight On Tsvangirai
By Professor Matodzi
Harare, August 19, 2013 – MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is quite certain to receive a hiding from Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku when he delivers his judgment on Tuesday on an election petition which the outgoing Prime Minister withdrew after challenging President Robert Mugabe’s claim to victory in last month’s polls.
Chidyausiku made the indication on Monday when he stated that Tsvangirai had in his affidavit criticised the integrity of one of the Constitutional Court’s judges.
In a bizarre manner, the Chief Justice even sought a response from Advocate Deepak Mehta, on whether he together with some of Tsvangirai’s lawyers share the same sentiments expressed in the MDC-T leader’s affidavit regarding Chidyausiku’s integrity.
In his affidavit attached to his notice of withdrawal of the election petition , Tsvangirai justified his decision on the basis that Mugabe had made some unsavoury comments at the Heroes Acre criticising his decision to approach the courts in the presence of Chidyausiku, who was expected to preside over the poll petition.
“The fact that the Chief Justice was in attendance on the day and the fact that he is expected to preside over my petition does very little to inspire my confidence in the possibility of my enjoyment of the constitutional right to a fair hearing. In this regard I make no imputation, gratuitous or otherwise, about the integrity of the honourable Chief Justice. My concern is with the conduct of the first Respondent (Mugabe),” reads part of Tsvangirai’s affidavit which Chidyausiku has taken issue with.
Tsvangirai withdrew his court challenge late Friday evening on the basis that he would not get a fair hearing after High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu had not granted him an order allowing him access to all the voting and election material which he had requested through two urgent chamber applications in the Electoral Court. This he said seriously handicapped his “prosecution of the petition”. He also protested against adverse pre-trial publicity which has been championed by the state-run media, particularly the Herald.
But despite the withdrawal of his election petition which was set to be heard on Saturday, Chidyausiku summoned the MDC-T leader’s lawyers to appear before a full bench of the Constitutional Court Monday morning where he insisted that the court makes a determination on the matter and hand down its ruling on Tuesday afternoon.
Tsvangirai said he would now pursue democratic means to fight Mugabe’s claim to victory in last month’s election in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared the Zanu PF leader as the winner of the presidential election with 61 percent of the vote while Tsvangirai garnered 33 percent.
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