The Election Resource Centre (ERC) between 20 – 22 June, monitored court proceedings affecting the electoral environment in Mutare against a number of respondents. The ERC monitored proceedings in the State v S. Chabuka, W. Mutwayo & G. Sithole; State v Monica Mukwada and State v Godfrey Mubatsa cases. The case monitoring is part of ERC’s Electoral Cycle Support oversight and documentation initiative, supported by the EU.
Through Trial Monitoring the ERC seeks to assess the efficacy of the Zimbabwean electoral justice system amid allegations that the judicial system has been weaponized and the prosecuting authorities use criminal charges, detention, and trials to retaliate against those who are deemed to be political threats. As such, there are strong grounds to conclude that the proceedings against the respondents constitute an abuse of process and are criticised for failing to uphold fair trial rights.
Arthur Ndarowha v Mwanzawatinyi Emmanuel Dodzo
Following the 26 March 2022, Arthur Ndarowha, Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate in the Ward 10, Mutasa Central constituency by-election filed an election petition seeking to nullify the Ward 10 by-election result. The applicant cited numerous electoral malpractices that ought to have rendered the result of the election void including violations to electoral integrity through assisted voting; intimidation of voters and vote buying. The Registrar of the Electoral Court dismissed the application following the failure by the applicant Arthur Ndarowha (CCC) to pay the security deposit as prescribed by section 168 (3) of the Electoral Act amounting to ZW$250 000 (approx US$8,000 – US$10,000)
The ERC monitored:
State v Simon Chabuka, Kuyumani Mtwayo, Godwin Sithole (Case No 3795/18)
On July 20, 2018, Chabuka, Mtwayo and Sithole were arraigned before the Magistrate Court in Mutare following their preliminary arrest on one count: Criminal Trespassing under Section 132 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Simon Chabuka currently Mayor for City of Mutare and stood as candidate representing then MDC Alliance in the 30 July 2018 Harmonised Elections for Ward 12, while Kuyumani Mtwayo and Godwin Sithole were members of the MDC Alliance and the candidates polling agents in the 2018 Harmonised Elections were arrested in Mutare for trespassing, while trying to observe the “Special Voting” process for members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police at Mutare Main Police Camp on July 14, 2018. Case postponed to 20 July 2022.
State v Monica Mukwada
On April 4, 2022 Councillor Mukwada was arraigned before the Magistrate Court in Mutare for contravening section 37 (2)(a) of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13 for making a false statement of fact in any claim or application for registration knowing the statement to be false or knowing or believing to be true. Prosecutors on behalf of the State, allege that Councillor Mukwada made false statements to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission when she registered as a voter, accused of having supplied a false address. It is alleged that she registered as a voter with the electoral body using the address 442 Devonshire Farm, Weirmouth (Ward 17), Mutare yet her true address is House No. 4106 in phase two of Chikanga High Density Suburb (Ward 16). Case postponed till 17 July, 2022.
State v Godfrey Mubatsa
Prosecutors on behalf of the State, allege that in February 2022, Godfrey Mubatsa, a Citizens Coalition for Change member in Mutare violated COVID-19 regulations and principles of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act by holding a meeting ahead of the 26 March by-elections without due notification to the Zimbabwe Republic Police. The trial was postponed to 16 July 2022, while the accused reports bi-weekly to the police station.
Source: Election Resource Centre (ERC)