19 February 2019
Member of Parliament for Harare East Tendai Biti says he will contest his conviction for contravening the Electoral Act.
Speaking soon after his release at Harare magistrate’s court, Biti said he would contest his conviction at a superior court.
“As for the verdict itself, I am innocent, absolutely innocent and we will be appealing against that decision,” said Biti.
Harare regional magistrate Gloria Takundwa in her ruling said the State managed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt through its witnesses.
The State led by Jonathan Murombedzi called the evidence of Utoile Silaigwana the acting ZEC elections officer, who testified that he was not aware of the purported results announced by Biti as ZEC had not completed the verification process to be able to announce official results.
“The second State witness was one of the investigating officers Jealousy Nyabasa who saw the video of Biti’s utterances on YouTube showing that there was reasonable suspicion that an offense that was committed and this suspicion was proven by the other IT expert together with the journalist Perfect Hlongwane who was present at the press conference,” said Magistrate Takundwa.
In points of aggravation, prosecutor Murombedzi urged the court to give Biti a stiff penalty because a fine would trivialise the offence and as a senior member of his party, Biti ought to have acted more responsibly as his utterances contributed to the violence that broke out in Zimbabwe on August 1.
Murombedzi also drew the court’s attention to the 2008 election in which Biti made similar utterances prompting the amendment of the Electoral Act resulting in the charge he was facing in court this year.
Biti was represented by a number of lawyers led by Beatrice Mtetwa and the team included Alec Muchadehama, Jeremiah Bhamu, Douglas Coltart and Harrison Nkomo.
The former minister of Finance was slapped with a $200 fine coupled with a wholly suspended six months’ jail term.