Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Biti demands prosecutor’s recusal

By Shamiso Dzingire

MDC deputy national chairperson Tendai Biti has demanded that chief law officer Michael Reza be recused from prosecuting him saying his judicial independence was in question.

Tendai Biti arrives at the magistrates courts in Harare, Thursday Aug. 9, 2018. Biti was deported to Zimbabwe following his arrest in Zambia after his asylum bid was rejected. Biti’s plight has raised concerns about a wave of repression against the opposition by the government of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Tendai Biti arrives at the magistrates courts in Harare, Thursday Aug. 9, 2018. Biti was deported to Zimbabwe following his arrest in Zambia after his asylum bid was rejected. Biti’s plight has raised concerns about a wave of repression against the opposition by the government of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Reza was appointed by the Prosecutor-General (PG) as the lead prosecutor in Biti’s case alongside Tafadzwa Mupariwa.

Biti’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said Reza’s appointment was a serious violation of sections 260 and 261 of the Constitution.

Section 260 stipulates that the PG must be independent, not subject to the control of anyone, and must exercise his or her functions impartially and without fear, favour prejudice or bias while section 261 requires that members of the National Prosecuting Authority must not act in a partisan manner or further the interests of any political party or cause.

Mtetwa said Reza does not meet all the mentioned constitutional requirements.

In lodging her application, Mtetwa made reference to Reza’s opposing affidavit where he challenged Biti’s notice of opposition filed at the High Court under case number HC9780/18 which partly reads: “This is a mere political grandstanding by the applicant. There was never any assassination attempt on the life of the applicant.

“In fact, the events of August 1 were a result of the conduct of the applicant who incited members of the public to engage in public violence culminating in the unfortunate death of people.

“The only violence that occurred was done by members of the MDC Alliance at the behest of the applicant who wouldn’t accept the presidential results in which his preferred candidate lost.”

Mtetwa said there is a current sitting Commission of Inquiry which is yet to make a ruling but the chief law officer has concluded that the accused person caused violence on August 1 and caused the army to shoot fleeing members of the public.

Mtetwa said: “Reza, has convicted the accused person before full trial. His utterances do not show impartiality and independence; therefore, he can no longer discharge mandate of the prosecutor in terms of the law.

“The accused applies that he be prosecuted fairly by a prosecutor who won’t show partisan traits. It will be prejudicial for the accused person if Reza represent the State.”

Mtetwa added that Reza’s own admission that he responded in a political manner violates section 261 of the Constitution which stipulates that members of the NPA show no favour to any political party.

She said: “The accused person is a political figure entitled to make political statements but Reza does not have that right by virtue of his position as a prosecutor.”

Magistrate Gloria Takundwa rolled the matter to Thursday for ruling. Biti is being charged with contravening the Electoral Act by prematurely announcing the election results and inciting the violence that rocked Harare on August 1. DailyNews