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Supreme Court throws out Tsvangirai’s case

The Supreme Court threw out Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s application to have it take over his 2002 presidential election challenge from the High Court, where it had languished for years.

Tsvangirai asked the Supreme Court to take the petition in November 2005, arguing that his right to an expeditious hearing had been contravened by a High Court judge’s refusal to give reasons for a ruling against Tsvangirai in June 2004.

Although the Supreme Court ruled against Tsvangirai, it found that the High Court judge made mistakes.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 06HARARE185, SUPREME COURT REJECTS TSVANGIRAI ELECTION CHALLENGE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE185

2006-02-17 09:47

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.

 

170947Z Feb 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000185

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2015

TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT REJECTS TSVANGIRAI ELECTION CHALLENGE

 

REF: A. REF A: HARARE 159

 

B. REF B: 2004 HARARE 987

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Supreme Court on February 12 rejected

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s application to have it take

over his 2002 presidential election challenge from the High

Court, where it has languished for years. Strapped for

resources, the MDC will likely scale back its strategy of

challenging the conduct and results of elections in a court

system that has shown itself unwilling to address

politically-charged issues. End summary.

 

2. (U) The Supreme Court on February 12 dismissed MDC

President Morgan Tsvangirai,s application requesting that

the Court take over his Presidential Election Petition.

Tsvangirai asked the Supreme Court to take the Petition in

 

SIPDIS

November 2005, arguing that his right to an expeditious

hearing had been contravened by a High Court judge,s refusal

to give reasons for a ruling against Tsvangirai in June 2004

(ref B). Although the Supreme Court ruled against the

opposition leader, it found that the High Court judge made

mistakes.

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai,s attorney Bryant Elliot told Post on

February 16 that the judgment was “disappointing but not

unexpected.8 Four days after its issuance, however, he had

yet to review the entire judgment. He expressed concern over

delays the legal team experienced with both the High Court

and the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, he said it was important

that they tested both levels of the justice system and put

their issues on record in the top court. Tsvangirai,s

attorneys will seek reconsideration of the decision and

simultaneously proceed with the next phase of the Petition in

the High Court, during which he expects to present evidence

that the GOZ tampered with the 2002 presidential election

results.

 

4. (U) In a possible allusion to the MDC,s parliamentary

election appeals, the state-controlled media reported that

High Court Justice Chinembiri Bhunu declared on February 14

at the opening of the legal year that &the courts will not

help spring anyone into power or help anyone remain in power.

Those who desire political office must go to the people and

not the courts.8

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

5. (C) The dismissal presents another blow, albeit not

unexpected, to the MDC, this time in the judiciary. The

party’s dozens of election challenges since the 2000

parliamentary elections have long represented a drain on the

MDC,s already shrinking resources, without yielding more

than symbolic victories in most instances. Some donors have

discreetly provided funding for the election challenges, but

outside assistance is drying up. MDC tests of the legal

system and associated publicity can be expected to fade in

the opposition’s overall strategy, especially if the party,s

chief legal strategist, David Coltart, is contemplating

taking a year off (ref A). The GOZ likely will continue to

delay the MDC’s remaining docket so as to absorb and distract

Tsvangirai and the party’s legal team. More importantly, the

 

SIPDIS

delays have caused election petitions to be ever more

irrelevant — delayed for several years, a number of ongoing

challenges to the June 2000 parliamentary elections were made

redundant by the March 2005 vote. In contrast, the courts

have demonstrated a willingness to expedite cases in some

instances when it suits the GOZ, such as the High Court’s

November ruling that overturned Tsvangirai’s suspension of

rebel MDC MP Job Sikhala, which took less than one week. The

contrast is striking and serves to underscroe manipulation of

the judiciary by ZANU-PF for its own political purposes.

DELL

 

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