out of the Harare Magistrates Court after magistrate Gloria Takundwa ignored prosecution pleas to jail him for up to a year. Biti will pay a $200 fine for announcing false election results, the magistrate has ruled.
Biti was convicted of contravening sections of the Electoral Act after he prematurely announced the 2018 Presidential Election results. He was facing two charges, one of announcing the results and one of declaring Nelson Chamisa as President.
Biti was represented by human rights lawyers, Beatrice Mtetwa and Alec Muchadehama. Muchadehama argued that Biti was not the only one who prematurely declared the results, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana did the same.
He had pleaded not guilty to both counts that he was facing but was convicted none the less.
Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa said that the address at the press conference constitutes the official announcement and it had an element to undermine ZEC.
She argued that Biti “presented his announcement as authentic and his actions had the potential to undermine the official announcement by ZEC. The intention of the Act is to prevent such behaviour exhibited by the accused which undermines the authority of ZEC.”
Prosecutor Murombedzi submitted that Biti should face a serious maximum prison term to send a signal to citizens who choose politics and think of running elections.
Section 66A of the Electoral Act which deals with unofficial announcement of results says “any person who purports to announce the result of an election as the true or official results; or purports to declare any candidate to have been duly elected before an electoral officer, acting in accordance with this Act, has announced the result of that election or declared a candidate to have been duly elected in that election, as the case may be, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”