Biti Loses Appeal Against Conviction And Sentence




Tendai Biti

MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti’s appeal challenging conviction and sentencing for unlawfully announcing elections results has been dismissed by the High Court.

Judges of appeal, Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Felistus Chatukuta ruled that his appeal filed back in 2019 following his conviction was “fatally defective” and went on to strike it off the roll.

Biti had challenged his conviction and sentence on grounds that the magistrate had no jurisdiction to hear his case in the first place because he appeared before her unlawfully.

The former finance minister had been charged with two counts of illegally announcing the results of the July 30 elections and then declaring MDC leader Nelson Chamisa winner of the crunch ballot in contravention of the Electoral Act.

For announcing the results Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa sentenced him to seven days in prison with the option of a $200.

The second count drew a wholly suspended sentence of six months’ imprisonment.

However, through his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Alec Muchadehama, Biti said the magistrate misdirected herself.

But judges of appeal, Justices Pisirayi Kwenda, and Felistus Chatukuta dismissed his application which they said was vague, long, and winding to such an extent that the relief he sought could not be understood.

“Undesirably, the notice of appeal, in this case, shows that some legal practitioners are still having difficulties properly formulating grounds of appeal.

“It is undeniable fact that the appellant’s grounds of appeal are long winding and agonising to go through. They make it hard for one to appreciate clearly what is being attacked by the appellant. Mrs. Mtetwa’s submission that the sub-paragraphs were an expansion of the main ground was in essence a concession that the main grounds were not clear and concise.

“In our view, the grounds of appeal are not clear as to what the appellant is attacking in the decision of the court a quo,” said the judges.

“There can be little doubt that in general the grounds of appeal noted in this case are vague in nature, verbose, and argumentative. They cannot be an aid to be clear and concise in some instances the grounds purport to raise a constitutional issue on appeal and in other instances appear to attempt to mix an ordinary appeal and a seemingly constitutional application is what was termed a dog’s breakfast by Makarau J. The appeal is therefore fatally defective. Accordingly, the appeal is struck off the roll,” they ruled.