MOVEMENT for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday filed a High Court application seeking Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede’s imprisonment f
or contempt of court over his alleged refusal to transfer ballot boxes to Harare.
Tsvangirai has for the past year been engaged with Mudede in mortal combat over the outcome of last year’s presidential poll won by President Mugabe. Tsvangirai, whose election petition was heard in court two weeks ago, believes that Mudede’s conduct in the poll swayed the result in favour of Mugabe.
Mudede is cited in the case in his personal capacity as the second respondent while his office is cited as the first.
“I am bringing this application seeking an order from this honourable court that the respondents are in contempt of this honourable court and that they are in fact in contempt in a most serous and grave manner,” said Tsvangirai in his affidavit.
The contentious issue has been the failure by Mudede to move to the capital from various parts of the country electoral material from the 2002 poll. This is despite numerous High Court rulings compelling him to abide by Section 78 of the Electoral Act.
The section compels the registrar-general to move all counted and rejected ballot papers together with counterfoils and used voters’ rolls in sealed packets to a specified place for safekeeping.
The latest such ru-ling compelling Mudede to follow the law was by Justice Moses Chinhengo on October 15. Chinhengo ordered that the electoral material should be kept at the offices of the Registrar of the High Court.
Mudede has for the past year pleaded that he has no funds to move the electoral material. But Chinhengo, who said Mudede had a statutory obligation, quashed this argument.
“It must be clear therefore that the request that the ballot papers not be brought to Harare because of the alleged lack of funds is an attempt by the respondent (Mudede) not only to disregard the order of this court but more importantly it is an attempt by him to have this court revisit its earlier decision,” Chinhengo said.
Meanwhile, the Administrative Court will on Monday hear an application by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe to effect an October 24 ruling which declared that the publishing company should be declared registered by November 30.
The Administrative Court also ruled that the Media and Information Commission (MIC) was improperly constituted and that its chairman Tafataona Mahoso was biased against ANZ, publishers of the Daily News. Mahoso has already noted an appeal against the Administrative Court’s ruling.
The ANZ is seeking a confirmation order of the October 24 ruling so that it can resume publishing after it was closed by government following a Supreme Court ruling on September 11 that the company was operating outside the law.