Source: Biti gets top prosecutor removed | The Herald 16 NOV, 2018
Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
MDC-Alliance principal Tendai Biti, who is facing charges of inciting violence in Harare following violent demonstrations on August 1, successfully applied for the removal of one of the best criminal prosecutors in the land, Mr Michael Reza, as lead prosecutor in the case.
He was also temporarily given back his passport to enable him to travel on parliamentary business after he had applied for its release.
Biti, through his lawyers, Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, Messrs Alec Muchadehama and Jeremiah Bhamu, made an application for Mr Reza to recuse himself from the matter on the basis that he was impartial and biased.
He argued that Mr Reza responded to his (Biti) affidavit at the High Court with a tone which showed that he was furthering the interests of a certain political party.
In her ruling, magistrate Ms Gloria Takundwa concurred with Biti and ordered Mr Reza to recuse himself as the lead prosecutor.
She said a prosecutor must be neutral at all times.
“When Mr Reza was responding to the accused’s application for his recusal, he responded saying that he had responded to Biti’s affidavit in a political climate since accused had also brought out a political tone,” said Ms Takundwa.
“Under no circumstances should a prosecutor at any stage assume a political tone or respond in a political tone. The prosecutor must at every stage remain non-partisan as required in terms of section 261(2) (a) of the constitution.
“The fact that Mr Reza responded in a political tone or climate shows that his behaviour has fallen far short of the customary standards of fairness and detachment as demanded from him.
“His sentiments instilled a belief or reasonable apprehension of biasness on his part.
“There is a real possibility of bias on the part of Mr Reza if he continues prosecuting the accused.
“If Mr Reza maintains the position as lead prosecutor, he may well not act towards the accused with the fairness and impartiality that the administration of criminal justice demands. The application, therefore, for removal of Mr Reza as the lead prosecutor be and is hereby granted.”
Mr Tafadzwanashe Mupariwa from the PG’s office then took over from Mr Reza as the lead prosecutor.
Biti is also facing charges of contravening Section 66A (1) of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13, which prohibits the unofficial or false declaration of election results.
He is alleged to have unlawfully declared opposition party leader Mr Nelson Chamisa as the winner of the presidential elections last week.
In terms of the country’s electoral laws, only the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is empowered to declare the winner of an election.
The matter was remanded to December 3 for trial.