Presidency to appeal ruling on Zim election report

President Jacob Zuma’s office has announced that it intends appealing against last week’s judgement in the North Gauteng High Court ordering the government to release to the Mail & Guardian a confidential report on the 2002 Zimbabwe presidential election.

In what was widely hailed as a victory in the struggle for state transparency in South Africa, Acting Judge S Sapire ordered the government to hand over the report within 10 days. This week, as the deadline was due to expire, the Presidency announced that it would seek leave to appeal.

The 2002 report was compiled by judges Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Khampepe, acting as special envoys to Zimbabwe for then-president Thabo Mbeki.

The M&G contends that the report is of public interest, given the widespread view that the 2002 Zimbabwe election, culminating in a victory for President Robert Mugabe, was marred by vote-rigging, intimidation, violence and fraud.

However, South Africa’s observer team to Zimbabwe endorsed the election result as a fair reflection of the will of voters.

When the Presidency rebuffed the M&G‘s attempts to gain access to the report, the newspaper lodged an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

M&G editor Nic Dawes said: “Of course the Presidency are within their rights to appeal, but we had hoped that they would demonstrate their commitment to transparency.”

The Presidency was not available for comment.

Sapire will hear the Presidency’s appeal. Should he decide to refer the case to another judge, the M&G and the Presidency will cross swords before a full Bench of judges at the North Gauteng High Court, or in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing.

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Lionel Faull
Lionel Faull
Lionel is a reporter at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Amabhungane.

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