Coltart said MDC was ready to go all the way


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Movement for Democratic Change Shadow Minister of Justice David Coltart said he had spent two years raising funds for the party’s challenge of the 2002 presidential elections and its challenge of the 2000 parliamentary elections and the money was in place for a lengthy court battle.

He was commenting after the High Court had dismissed the party’s election petition challenging the presidential elections.

The party was now awaiting the second phase which was expected to be more explosive as it dealt with factual evidence which could be embarrassing to the government.

High Court Justice Ben Hlatshwayo dismissed the first phase of the MDC’s presidential election petition, ruling that the constitutional and legal points the MDC raised did not prejudice the 2002 presidential election.

Coltart could not predict when the second phase of the trail might start and noted that of 37 MDC challenges to the parliamentary elections of 2000, only 14 had so far been heard in court.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE987, HIGH COURT DISMISSES PHASE ONE OF MDC PRESIDENTIAL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE987

2004-06-14 14:05

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000987

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI

SUBJECT: HIGH COURT DISMISSES PHASE ONE OF MDC PRESIDENTIAL

ELECTION CHALLENGE

 

REF: 2003 HARARE 2204

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

1. (U) SUMMARY: On June 10, the High Court dismissed the

first phase of the MDC’s election petition covering

challenges against the 2002 presidential election. No date

has yet been set for a second phase, which is expected to

disclose factual evidence potentially embarrassing to the

GOZ. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) High Court Justice Ben Hlatshwayo dismissed the first

phase of the MDC’s presidential election petition, ruling

that the constitutional and legal points the MDC raised did

not prejudice the 2002 presidential election. The MDC had

challenged the constitutionality of the Electoral Act and a

2002 amendment to the Act, which allowed President Mugabe to

stipulate the composition of the Electoral Supervisory

Commission (ESC), to restrict mail-in ballots to soldiers and

diplomats, to extend voter registration for five extra days,

and to allow voters who registered after the cutoff date to

vote. The MDC also sought to include the ESC as a

respondent; Hlatshwayo did rule in the MDC’s favor on that

point.

 

3. (SBU) The MDC originally filed this elections petition in

April 2002. After 19 months, in November 2003 the MDC took a

day and a half to argue its 27-point petition in court. The

State’s response took 40 minutes and did not cover many of

the points the MDC had raised. Seven months later, Justice

Hlatshwayo has dismissed most of the points the MDC raised.

This paves the way for the second phase of the petition, an

expectedly lengthy phase covering factual evidence and

involving reportedly tens of witnesses. Justice Hlatshwayo

has not yet issued reasons for his decision, and no date has

been suggested to start the second phase.

 

4. (C) On June 10 MDC MP and Shadow Minister of Justice David

Coltart said that he had been fundraising for the past two

years to pay for this trial and that monies were more or less

in place to pay legal fees for the lengthy second phase.

Coltart could not predict when the second phase of the trail

might start and noted that of 37 MDC challenges to the

parliamentary elections of 2000, only 14 had so far been

heard in court.

 

Comment:

——–

 

5. (C) Many observers construe this dismissal as a serious

blow to the MDC, but the decision itself represents progress

in the case, which has been delayed inexplicably for over two

years. In addition, the first phase covering legal issues

was less significant than the second covering factual ones.

In the second phase the MDC intends to bring forward soldiers

who stuffed ballot boxes, evidence of tampering with the

voters’ roll, and other dirty laundry the GOZ would not want

aired in public. The incredible delays and expense, and

judicial bias, however, in this and the parliamentary

challenges have led some MDC leaders to question the wisdom

of using the courts to achieve political ends.

WHITEHEAD

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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