5 March 2013

Zimbabwe: SA Presidency Refuses to Release Election Report

Photo: MDC
Pedestrians walk past an election billboard.

The South African Presidency has once again refused to honour a court order to release a hidden report on Zimbabwe's 2002 elections, stating it will appeal the decision.

President Jacob Zuma's office was ordered to hand over the report to the Mail & Guardian newspaper last month, four years after the paper approached the courts to have the report released to the public. This was amid widespread speculation that the report contained evidence showing that the 2002 disputed election in Zimbabwe was not free or fair.

High Court Judge Joseph Raulinga last month ruled that there was enough information to cast doubts on the legality of that poll, and ordered the President to hand it over within ten days.

But according to Mail & Guardian Editor Nic Dawes, the Presidency has again stated its intention to appeal the decision meaning the report will remain secret for now.

"We expected this time they would hand it over. This is the fourth court that it has gone through, and the third judge to say it should be handed over...but yet they have once again indicated they will appeal," Dawes told SW Radio Africa.

He added: "Perhaps they want to keep this tied up in court until after the Zimbabwe elections."

The report was commission by the then South African President Thabo Mbeki, who insisted that the electoral process in Zimbabwe in 2002 was completely democratic. Dawes said on Tuesday that the report should now be used by the current administration "to learn lessons," ahead of Zimbabwe's poll this year.

"It is becoming urgent as Zimbabwe heads towards elections once again. It's important to get the election right in Zimbabwe and understanding what went wrong in 2002 is important for Zimbabwe. It is also important for South Africa as the key regional player to understand what went wrong too," Dawes said.

He added: "If our President (in 2002) was informed by two eminent judges of serious problems with that election and reacted in the way he did, which was effectively to endorse that stolen election, then there are things the current administration can learn."

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