Zim election observers challenge arrest, remand

Thirty-five members of the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe Election Support Network’s (ZESN) polls observing team who were arrested on allegations of attempting to announce the August 23 presidential results have challenged their placement on remand.

The group was arrested on August 24 in a police raid that saw the two organisations’ equipment being confiscated.

The equipment was being used in their parallel voter tabulation.

All of them were eventually granted US$200 bail after spending two days in custody.

On their initial appearance, the 35 complained of the manner in which they were treated by the police. They indicated to the court that they had been tortured, with investigations ordered on the matter.

The investigations which were set to have been completed by September 7 are yet to be completed.

On Thursday, a Harare magistrate directed that the group should submit their written arguments and said the ruling will be handed down on October 6.

“We made the complaint to the court, the court ordered that the state investigate those complaints and provide a report to the court today,” said Aleck Muchadehama, their lawyer.

“We want the state to produce that report for purposes of complying with that court order. It seems like the state has no witness, it was easy if the state said don’t interfere with A, B and C. The accused should be removed from remand because of the delay, the state did not answer the question why the accused should be on remand. As the law says that every remand must be justified.”

The group’s lawyers have argued that the state has no case against them and that they should be removed from remand. They have also accused the state of delaying the investigations into the allegations of torture.

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