MDC scores major legal victory

The Movement for Democratic Change won a major legal victory when Judge James Devittie nullified two ZANU-PF parliamentary victories in Buhera North and Hurungwe and declared the two seats vacant.

The petitioner in Buhera North was MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai who had lost to Kenneth Manyonda of ZANU-PF.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the government would respect the court’s decision and was raring to contest the by-election.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 01HARARE1453, MDC WINS TWO PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL CHALLENGES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE1453

2001-04-27 11:59

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

271159Z Apr 01

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2138

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 01453 271152Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DINT-00

DODE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00  OIGO-00 FBIE-00

VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   LAB-01   L-00

VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00 OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00

PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   IRM-00   SSO-00

STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00     PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01

DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00     /010W

------------------E4AA59 271152Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8736

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001453

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL. 04/25/11

TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM PINS ZI

SUBJECT: MDC WINS TWO PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL CHALLENGES

 

REF: HARARE 1123

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 01453 271152Z

 

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL IRVING. REASONS: 1.5

(B) AND (D).

 

JUDICIAL RULING

---------------

 

1. (C) IN A SIGNIFICANT LEGAL VICTORY FOR THE OPPOSITION MOVEMENT

FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE (MDC), HIGH COURT JUDGE JAMES DEVITTIE ON

APRIL 26 NULLIFIED ZANU-PF'S PARLIAMENTARY VICTORIES IN TWO

CONSTITUENCIES LAST JUNE -- BUHERA NORTH IN MANICALAND AND HURUNGWE

EAST IN MASHONALAND WEST -- AND DECLARED THE TWO SEATS VACANT. THE

PETITIONER IN THE BUHERA NORTH CASE IS MDC PRESIDENT MORGAN

TSVANGIRAI, WHO HAD LOST TO THE ZANU-PF CANDIDATE -- KENNETH

 

SIPDIS

MANYONDA -- BY 2500 VOTES (OUT OF A TOTAL OF MORE THAN 23,000

BALLOTS CAST). IN HIS ORAL REMARKS, DEVITTIE CITED WIDESPREAD

VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION IN THE TWO VOTING DISTRICTS, NOTING THAT

THE CLIMATE MAY HAVE PREVENTED CITIZENS FROM "EXERCISING THEIR

DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO VOTE." REFLECTING THE INTENSE PRESSURE

CONFRONTING HIM AND HIS TWO HIGH COURT COLLEAGUES WHO ARE HANDLING

THE MDC'S LEGAL CHALLENGES, DEVITTIE SAID HIS DECISIONS CAUSED HIM

"MORE ANXIETY THAN HE HAS HAD CAUSE TO FEEL IN THE TIME HE HAS SAT

ON THE BENCH."

 

REACTIONS

---------

 

2. (C) TSVANGIRAI WELCOMED THE JUDGMENT, SAYING IT HAD CONFIRMED

THAT LAST JUNE'S ELECTIONS HAD NOT BEEN FREE AND FAIR, AND HE

PRAISED THE JUDICIARY FOR NOT SUCCUMBING TO STATE INTIMIDATION. IN

A SURPRISINGLY UPBEAT REACTION, THE USUALLY VITRIOLIC MINISTER OF

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 01453 271152Z

INFORMATION JONATHAN MOYO EMPHASIZED THE GOVERNMENT'S COMMITMENT TO

THE RULE OF LAW AND RESPECT FOR COURT DECISIONS. AN ALMOST GIDDY

MOYO SAID ZANU-PF SUPPORTERS WERE "RARING" TO CONTEST A BY-ELECTION

AND SAID HE HOPED THE REGISTRAR-GENERAL WOULD ORGANIZE THE PROCESS

WITHOUT DELAY.

 

NEXT STEPS

----------

 

3. (C) ACCORDING TO THE ELECTORAL ACT, BY-ELECTIONS MUST BE HELD

TO FILL THE NOW VACANT SEATS WITHIN APPROXIMATELY 90 DAYS FROM THE

DATE DEVITTIE'S WRITTEN JUDGMENT IS RELEASED -- EXPECTED WITHIN A

WEEK -- OR OF A SUPREME COURT RULING UPHOLDING HIS DECISION. GANDI

MUDZINGWA, TSVANGIRAI'S PERSONAL ASSISTANT, TOLD POLITICAL SECTION

CHIEF ON APRIL 27 THAT THE MDC PRESIDENT WAS TORN ABOUT WHETHER TO

CONTEST THE BY-ELECTION. ON ONE HAND, HE WANTS TO DEMONSTRATE TO

THE VOTERS IN BUHERA NORTH THAT HE IS NOT AFRAID TO RUN AGAIN BUT,

ON THE OTHER, CONTESTING A PARLIAMENTARY SEAT WHILE HE IS RUNNING

FOR PRESIDENT MIGHT NOT MAKE THE BEST SENSE. MUDZINGWA SAID THE

MDC'S NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE WOULD MEET SOON TO CONSIDER THIS

ISSUE. DEVITTIE IS SCHEDULED TO RENDER DECISIONS IN TWO OTHER

CASES THE AFTERNOON OF APRIL 27.

 

MORE INTIMIDATION

-----------------

 

4. (C) TWO HOURS AFTER DEVITTIE ANNOUNCED HIS RULINGS ON APRIL 26,

A GROUP OF FIFTEEN CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION AGENTS AND

POLICE IN RIOT GEAR APPEARED AT THE MDC'S HEADQUARTERS IN DOWNTOWN

HARARE. THEY ARRESTED FOUR OF TSVANGIRAI'S BODYGUARDS, ACCUSING

THEM OF HAVING RECEIVED MILITARY TRAINING IN UGANDA. ACCORDING TO

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 01453 271152Z

MUDZINGWA, THE FOUR WERE DETAINED OVERNIGHT AT HARARE'S CENTRAL

POLICE STATION AND DENIED ACCESS TO THEIR ATTORNEY. AS OF MIDDAY

ON APRIL 27, FORMAL CHARGES STILL HAD NOT BEEN FILED AGAINST THE

FOUR, WHO REMAINED IN DETENTION AND CONTINUED TO BE DENIED ACCESS

TO LEGAL COUNSEL.

 

COMMENT

-------

 

5. (C) DEVITTIE SHOWED A GREAT DEAL OF COURAGE, AS HE WAS UNDER

SIGNIFICANT PRESSURE TO RULE THE OTHER WAY. INDEED, HIS DECISIONS

TOOK EVERYONE IN THE COURTROOM BY SURPRISE, AND WILL UNDOUBTEDLY

GIVE HOPE TO ZIMBABWEANS, MANY OF WHOM HAVE BEEN FEELING

INCREASINGLY DESPONDENT ABOUT THE DIRECTION OF THEIR COUNTRY.

MOYO'S POSITIVE REACTION PROVIDES REASON TO BE SUSPICIOUS, AND

SUGGESTS THAT ZANU-PF HAS SOME OTHER PLAN UP ITS SLEEVE THAT

PROBABLY WILL INVOLVE SIGNIFICANT LEVELS OF VIOLENCE AND

INTIMIDATION. THE GOVERNMENT CERTAINLY REVEALED ITS TRUE COLORS IN

RAIDING THE MDC'S OFFICES SO SOON AFTER DEVITTIE'S JUDGMENTS.

ALTHOUGH THE ELECTORAL ACT PROVIDES GENERAL TIMELINES WITHIN WHICH

A BY-ELECTION SHOULD BE HELD, IT PROVIDES THE PRESIDENT WITH SOME

DISCRETION FOR DELAY, AND WE FULLY EXPECT MUGABE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE

OF THIS WIGGLE ROOM.

 

IRVING

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

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