Fraud accused MDC legislator acquitted

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By Mary Taruvinga

MDC MP for Mount Pleasant, Samuel Banda could not hide his joy after he was acquitted of presenting a false residential address to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) before last year’s general elections.

Banda walked out of court a free man, after Harare Magistrate Learnmore Mapiye acquitted him at the close of State case.

The magistrate ruled that internal party fights had been used to waste the court’s time.

“It is regrettable that factional fights have found their way to the courts. The whole case was as a result of sour grapes and bitterness by two people who lost the election to the accused.

“This court is of the view that the State failed to prove its prima face case against the accused,” said Mapiye.

“Also, the witnesses statements cannot be relied on as it is apparent there were issues of bad blood.”

The Magistrate ruled that the witnesses gave contradicting statements which were insufficient to nail the accused.

In his defence after the State closed its case, Banda said the witnesses in his case were jealous of him because they lost the election.

He won the seat beating his landlord, Isaac Chidavaenzi.

“The only truth is that both witnesses wanted to be MDC Alliance candidates. Almost everything they said about me were lies and was said out of hate or jealousy.

“(Former MDC Councillor Warship) Dumba wanted to be a councillor while Chidavaenzi wanted to be the MP but they all lost,” Banda told the court.

“I am so surprised that Chidavaenzi lied that I do not stay at his place of residence yet I’m still staying at his house. I’m surprised that he lied that he learnt that I registered using his place of residence address on radio. Its so shameful.”

The legislator was accused of providing false address during the National Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise in December last year.

Banda was charged with “making a false statement or fact in any claim or application for registration to vote knowing the statement to be false” as defined in the Electoral Act.

The State alleged that on December 28, 2017 and during the BVR exercise, Banda allegedly misrepresented to ZEC that he was residing in Mt Pleasant.

He was said to have done this in order to register as a voter in that constituency while he did not reside there.

The State further alleged that Banda went on to depose an affidavit of residence for voter registration, to ZEC’s Commissioner of oaths purporting to be residing in the low-density suburb.

It was said that through the misrepresentation, Banda registered as a voter in the constituency where he contested as an MP and eventually won.

Dumba who lost in last year’s elections then reported a case against Banda.

But court ruled the State’s case was very week.