MP for Harare East constituency and MDC vice chairperson Tendai Biti had his bail conditions relaxed by a Harare magistrate on Wednesday. Under the revised bail conditions, Biti will get back his passport and title deeds to his Harare home.
He is facing charges of violating the Electoral Act after he allegedly announced the July 30 presidential results prematurely before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had done so. Biti allegedly declared Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance the winner of the poll.
Biti’s trial was deferred after the presiding magistrate was attacked by a top prosecutor for allowing journalists to live stream the trial.
In her ruling, Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa said
It is befitting that the accused bail conditions be relaxed.
The State is hereby ordered to give the accused his passport and title deeds to his property, house number 7 Bernard Avenue, Chisipite.
The accused is ordered to continue residing at his given address and to not interfere with witnesses.
Biti’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa had told the court that
He (Biti) is in the court because he is an MDC member. To deny him the passport will be clear controversy and exhibits discrimination based on political affiliation.
The public will believe that accused persons who are members of the opposition have lesser rights. The accused should enjoy the freedom of movement based on changed circumstances.
Initially, he was also charged with public violence, a more serious offence but now he is being accused of flouting the Electoral Act, a lesser charge. May the court also take note that the accused defence is so strong.
It is common knowledge that some members of the ruling party, for example, Paul Mangwana, made the same utterances declaring the President a winner of the elections, but he was never arrested. This is what politicians do. The President himself also made the same utterances.