350 hours community service for blowing whistle on Zim voting fraud

2013-11-08 08:17

A court in Zimbabwe has found an opposition official guilty of fraud and breaching electoral laws after he reported finding dumped ballot papers during the July general election.

Morgan Komichi, an aide of former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested after telling the electoral commission ballot papers marked for the opposition leader had been found dumped in a dustbin.

He made the discovery after security forces had voted at the Harare International Conference Centre in a special vote two weeks ahead of nationwide polling on July 31.

He was arrested after handing an envelope full of marked ballot papers to the authorities and has been held in custody ever since.

Komichi’s lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said he was given a suspended sentence of 18 months.

“The eight months were suspended on condition of good behaviour and the 10 months on condition that he performs 350 hours of community service,” said Muchadehama.

He said Komichi will appeal his conviction and sentence.

The MDC, which lost the vote to President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, claimed several such ballots had been dumped at the conference centre where security forces had voted.

Tsvangirai later described the election as “a massive fraud”, citing an unusual number of voters who had been turned away in urban constituencies considered opposition strongholds.

The voting process was hailed by the African Union as free and fair.

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