Fidelis Munyoro and Nokutenda Chiyangwa
MDC-Alliance principal Tendai Biti yesterday appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts facing charges of inciting violence and unlawfully declaring opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa as the winner in the Presidential elections last week.
In terms of the country’s electoral law, only the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is empowered to declare the winner of an election.
Biti, who was denied asylum by the Zambian government after he tried to seek refuge in that country on Wednesday, was handed over to Zimbabwean authorities at Chirundu Border Post yesterday morning.
He arrived in Harare before lunch and was taken to Harare Central Police Station before he appeared in court for preliminary remand later in the day.
Biti was not formally charged for inciting public violence as defined by Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 and contravening Section 66A(1) of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13, which prohibits the unofficial or false declaration of election results, when he appeared before magistrate Mr Elisha Singano.
Mr Singano granted Biti bail coupled with stringent conditions by consent of both the prosecution and defence counsel.
Biti was ordered to deposit $5 000 bail with the Clerk of Court at Harare Magistrates’ Courts.
He was also ordered to surrender his passport and title deeds to one of his properties, house number 7 Bernard Avenue, Chisipite, valued at $200 000.
The politician was further prohibited from interfering with State witnesses in the matter and not to address any political gathering or Press conference until the matter is finalised.
He is also required to report twice daily at Criminal Investigation Department’s Law and Order Section.
Zambia’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services and chief government spokesperson, Ms Dora Siliya, earlier in the day said Biti was not deported but handed back as he had not entered Zambian territory.
“His handover documents were processed on 8 August while his court order against his return was processed on 9 August 2018,” she said.
Mr Singano rolled over the matter to today for the defence to make an application challenging Biti’s remand.
Through his lawyer, Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, Biti wants the court to determine whether he was properly before the court given the circumstances of his case.
“We want the court to determine whether the accused is properly before you and whether the police complied with the law,” said Ms Mtetwa. Mr Justin Uladi from the National Prosecuting Authority appeared for the State along with Mr Michael Reza, Ms Chipo Muronda and Mr Jonathan Murombedzi.
Ms Mtetwa is being assisted by Mr Alec Muchadahama, Mr Jeremiah Bamu, Mr Denford Halimani and Mr Gift Mtisi.