Komichi remanded in custody

HARARE - Morgen Komichi, chief elections officer in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC spent another night in prison after appearing in court on charges of reporting that a special ballot cast by security forces had been found in a rubbish bin.

The MDC deputy chairperson appeared before magistrate Anita Tshuma, who is set to hand down his bail ruling today.

Komichi, 49, is being charged with fraud and contravening the Electoral Act after he presented to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), a ballot paper he had found in a dustbin.

He arrived at the courts surrounded by a hoard of detectives among them the head of the Law and Order section chief superintendent Chrispen Makedenge and a battalion of fully-armed anti-riot police officers.

The State opposed bail averring that he was a flight risk and was likely to interfere with witnesses if released.

Andrew Makoni, Komichi’s defence counsel, said there was no likelihood that he would interfere with witnesses as he did not know any of them.

Makoni also argued that Zec should be in the dock instead of Komichi as they should answer how the ballot papers found their way into rubbish bin.

“He ought to be the complainant in this matter and Zec must be the one in the dock explaining how crucial voting material was found in a dustbin outside of their Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) Command Centre,” Makoni said.

“He went to them (Zec) with a complaint but what they do is rush to the police and get him arrested.

“This is a case of shooting the messenger … he believes his arrest was politically motivated and calculated to stifle his political party at this election period much to the benefit of his party’s competitors,” Makoni said.

Makedenge was asked to take the witness stand and testified that Komichi had only indicated that his informant was Michael Phiri, an MDC national elections officer. However, Phiri is still at large.

Allegations are that on July 25 at HICC, Komichi approached Tendayi Pamire asking to have an audience with Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau after he had found a ballot envelope in a rubbish bin outside the Command Centre.

Komichi alleged that Zec was destroying ballot papers of members of the uniformed forces who voted for Tsvangirai and his MDC party.

The said envelope is alleged to have belonged to Constable Mugove Chiginya, a police officer supposed to have voted for the MDC in his Southerton constituency.

The court heard Chiginya did not vote during the specified special voting period and surrendered an SV2 form to his superiors to indicate that.

On July 26, Chiginya’s finger was examined using an ultra-violet light detector and no traces of voting ink were detected.

On July 28, Komichi was arrested by police at his Bluffhill home.

Meanwhile, MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told a press conference yesterday: “Morgen Komichi is the chief election agent of Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.

“As I said accreditation of election agents took place two weeks ago and the law does not allow us to present a substitute. So by arresting him, you are in fact crippling the operations of our presidential candidate. We know he can actually be denied bail.”

 

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