By A Correspondent- The High court has dismissed the MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti’s appeal against conviction and sentence imposed on him for allegedly announcing the 2018 harmonised election results.
Biti was sentenced to seven days in prison with the option of a US$200 fine on the first count while he escaped jail with a wholly suspended sentence of six months’ imprisonment on the other count.
Dissatisfied with the trial court’s decision, Biti approached the High Court on appeal against both conviction and sentence.
But two judges of the High Court Felistus Chatukuta and Pisirayi Kwenda sitting as an appeal court found the grounds of appeal unreasonably long and puzzling for the court to follow. Justice Chatukuta now the Supreme Court judge, wrote the judgment in which Biti’s appeal was struck off the roll.
She said Biti’s grounds of appeal were twisty and agonising to go comprehend.
“They make it hard for one to appreciate clearly what is being attacked by the appellant,” she said. “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 court found that grounds of appeal sought to raise constitutional issues on appeal and in other instances appear to attempt to mix an ordinary appeal and a seemingly constitutional application. “The appeal is therefore fatally defective. Accordingly, the appeal is struck off the roll,” ruled Justice Chatukuta. Justice Kwenda concurred.
The court also criticised Biti’s lawyers for doing a shoddy job by filing a defective appeal. Biti was convicted on two counts of illegally announcing the results of the July 2018, elections and declaring MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa the winner, although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission later declared President Mnangagwa as the winner.
In his appeal, Biti, who was being represented his lawyers led by Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, argued that the trial magistrate misdirected herself in failing to consider pre-trial violations of his rights and the illegality of his arrest.
He claimed that he was improperly before the local court as he was “abducted” by state agents from Zambia. He argued that it was only fair for him to appear before a Zambian court the day he was arrested.