Did You Notice This Precedent?
MDC-T officials liek Roy Bennett (seen above on his release from prison in March this year) are being deliberately targeted to whittle down the MDC-T majority in parliament and now, precedents are being set in little-noticed court cases in order to prepare an alibi for the vindictive sentences that are sure to follow for MDC-T MPs currently facing various chargesHarare, Zimbabwe, August 19 2009
Last week, a cellphone thief was in court here in Harare, charged with snatching nobile phones in the city centre.As you know, there is an MDC MP also facing the same charges. And this is where the significance of this trial lies.The cellphone tried yesterday was sentenced to 4 years in prison.In light of this, it is probable that the MDC deputy ministetr who is facing charges of stealing War Veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba's cellphone will almost certainly face a similar jail sentence.In legal language, what happened to the cellphone thief last week is called a "precedent". Even allowing for the fact that the deputy minister will be treated as a first offender, it is unlikely that, if convicted he would get less than 6 months in prison.Any MP sentenced to 6 months or more in prison automatically loses his or seat and a by-election is triggered in their constituency.Considering the political implications of convicting the cellphone MP, it is likely that political pressure will be brought to bear on the magistrates and judges involved in his case and you will see him get 6 months at the very least.Mugabe remains determined to whittle down the MDC majority in parliament because this will have implications on the appointments of ministers, governors and so on.The ratio currently being used is based onthe majority the MDC has in parliament. Once that goes, so does the basis for the composition of government.The precedent has been set and all that is left now is for the government to protest later on that there was no political bias in the trial of the deputy minister. They will point to this case as an example of the fact that cellphone thieves get long sentences regardless of who they are.