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14 Nov 2014 19:07
The findings of the much-coveted Khampepe report, finally made public on Friday, found that the 2002 Zimbabwe elections were not "free and fair".
The 2002 Zimbabwean elections were not
“free and fair”, the long-awaited Khampepe report by then Pretoria high court judge Dikgang Moseneke and Johannesburg high court judge Sisi Khampepe has determined.
document found the running of the three-day voting process, excluding delays
in urban areas Harare and Chitungwiza, to have complied with the legislative
requirements and to have been free of violence and/or apparent ballot
judges weighed this finding against pre-election activities such as intimidation
and the deaths of 107 mainly opposition members and lengthy legal
battles to change laws in favour of Zanu-PF, largely around citizenship and
the reduction of polling stations in urban areas, where the strongest opposition
party Movement for Democratic change had its largest support
The report objected to the Zimbabwean government’s failure to respect and implement
recommendations by the Supreme Court of Appeal and the high courts.
‘No prospects of success’The
findings of the Khampepe report were made public on Friday following a
Constitutional Court judgment on the same day, in which the court rejected an appeal by government against an appeal court judgment that found the documents should be made public. The Constitutional Court
dismissed the application on the grounds that it “bears no
prospects of success”.
African presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma have spent more than six years
fighting against public release of the report commissioned by former president
Thabo Mbeki and applied for by
had tasked the two judges, now serving on the Constitutional Court bench, with
leading the Judicial Observer Mission to cover the March 8 to 10 Zimbabwe presidential elections and drawing up a report on their observations.
claims from some observers that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF
had used violence and the changing of citizenship rules to sway the vote in his
favour, the Khampepe report, as it became known, was never released to the
South African public.
Mbeki continued to endorse the Zimbabwe elections and support the view by the South African Observer mission (SAOM), which oversaw the elections, that they had been “legitimate”. This was the view of its leader, Sam Motsuenyane.
On March 13, the SAOM told reporters in Harare that the participation of the opposition in the campaign legitimised the outcome of the elections.
In going out to vote in large numbers, the Zimbabwean people had “demonstrated their commitment to expressing their will in determining who should be their president”.
The report concluded that, based on their observations, it “is the view of the SAOM that the outcome of the 2002 Zimbabwe presidential elections should be considered
Mbeki continued to dismiss the importance of the Commonwealth Observer Mission report, which highlighted a number of irregularities that are now listed in the Khampepe report.
The Khampepe documents were handed over to the
M&G‘s lawyers on Friday afternoon following the Constitutional Court judgment.
M&G‘s lawyer Dario Milo of Webber Wentzel was delighted with the judgment, saying: “We are ecstatic that a five-year battle has finally come to a close.
The judgment is a resounding victory for guaranteeing the rights of access to information.
“Now that we have seen the report, it is clear that the presidency had no basis to withhold this report in the first place.
“The office acted contrary to the values of openness and transparency enshrined in PAIA [the Promotion of Access to Information Act] and the Constitution. Three successive presidents opposed the report’s release when they should have known that the public had a clear right to know, and when they should have known that their opposition was baseless and dilatory,” Milo said.
The document weighs up a number of
concerns and attempts to offer a balanced appraisal, choosing not to review
allegations that the Zanu-PF received more coverage via state-owned media, radio in particular, than the MDC and the three other candidates.
Instead, the report occupies itself with the last year and few months leading up to the election.
It points out that the 2002 elections were
a turning point in Zimbabwean electoral history – seeing the Zanu-PF going from
a 93% majority in the 1996 presidential elections to just 51.9% in 2002
“demonstrated Zanu-PF’s dramatic decline”.
Consequently, it would mean that the stakes
for these elections were high.
It was principally the pre-polling and
other environment that informed our assessment of the conduct of elections.
We recognise that the opposition parties fully participated in the electoral process
up to the end. We acknowledge that on polling days, no significant
irregularities have in Harare and Chitungwisa occurred, the report said.
‘Cannot be considered free and fair’“However,” the judges concluded, “having
regard to all the circumstances, and in particular the cumulative substantial
departures from international standards of free and fair elections found in
Zimbabwe during the pre-election period, these elections, in our view, cannot
be considered free and fair.”
Milo said: “This landmark case will teach public bodies that you may be able to run for a while, but you can’t hide.”
The judgment vindicates those who have continued to question the freedom and fairness of the March 2002 elections for the past decade.
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