/ 17 August 2023

Good Governance Africa head Chris Maroleng and team deported from Zimbabwe

Chris Maroleng, Executive Director, Gga
Good Governance Africa head Chris Maroleng

Good Governance Africa said on Thursday that its international chief executive, Chris Maroleng, and three colleagues had been deported from Zimbabwe by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government a week before the country’s general election on 23 August.

In a statement GGA — a nonprofit organisation that focuses on researching, advocating and improving governance on the African continent — said Maroleng and his team had arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to conduct field research on the conditions and challenges ahead of next week’s vote. They had interviews set up with high-profile people in the capital Harare and in the country’s second-largest city, Bulawayo.

“We are shocked and dismayed by this turn of events, but not surprised, as the pattern of bullying, anti-democratic behaviour by the Zanu-PF-led government — especially in the run-up to elections — is well documented,” Maroleng said in the statement

Mnangagwa faces his stiffest challenge in the elections from Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens’ Coalition for Change, which has accused Zanu-PF of carrying out a campaign of violence and intimidation against its opponents to skew the election in its favour. The ruling party rejects the charge. 

According to the GGA, Maroleng and his team were ejected despite receiving prior permission from officials at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria to enter the neighbouring country.

“GGA had also received a supporting letter from its Harare-based partner, Southern Africa Political and Economy Series (SAPES Trust), chaired by Prof Ibbo Mandaza,” reads the statement. 

Zanu-PF has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, but its critics both at home and in the West say the former liberation movement has only clung to power in the past two decades by rigging elections in the face of discontent over economic hardships blamed on government mismanagement.

In a statement last month, rights group Amnesty International said that over the past five years, the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly had been relentlessly suppressed in the country.

“Amid a sustained crackdown against those who have demanded accountability from the government or organised protests against allegations of corruption, journalists, members of the political opposition and human rights activists have all been targeted for criticising the government,” it said.

Zanu-PF has always rejected charges that it has rigged elections since 2000, and insists that next week’s vote will be free and fair.