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14 Nov 2014 10:16
The M&G has won access to a report by Constitutional Court justices Sisi Khampepe (pictured) and Dikgang Moseneke into claims of vote-rigging during the 2002 Zimbabwe elections. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)
The contents of the disputed Khampepe
Report in the 2002 Zimbabwe elections are finally to be made public after the
Constitutional Court turned down an application by government to appeal a
Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that the report be handed over.
This is likely to be the final chapter of a five
year battle – and at least five court cases by lawyers for the Mail &
Guardian – to gain access to a report by Constitutional Court justices Sisi
Khampepe and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.
It has been claimed that there was
vote-rigging in those elections, but the report has never been made public.
The Constitutional Court on Friday
dismissed a request by government to appeal the appeal court ruling, saying that “the
application should be dismissed as it bears no prospects of success”.
The appeal court had on September 19 dismissed, with costs, the attempt by the presidency to appeal a high court order by Pretoria high court judge Joseph Raulinga that it should hand over the Khampepe report to the M&G, which would mean it would in reality become a public document.
The process has not been without its drama.
The report went missing briefly earlier this year from Raulinga’s office.
The state argued that it could not be
compelled to hand over the report if it was no longer in existence.
The report was eventually found, and it was
decided a copy should be stored at the office of the president of the appeal
court Lex Mpati.
A resounding victoryM&G’s lawyer Dario Milo of Webber
Wentzel said on Friday that they were in the process of applying to the
registrar of the appeal court for permission to go and collect the
document being stored in Bloemfontein.
“We are ecstatic that a five year battle
has finally come to a close,” he said. “The judgment is a resounding victory for
guaranteeing the rights of access to information.”
He said it sends a message to “public
bodies to not reject requests for access to information without a good basis”.
Observers, such as those from Norway,
claimed that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF had used violence to
sway the vote, while others raised concerns about changes in citizenship rules
and voter registration, saying this amounted to vote-rigging.
The presidency, under Kgalema Motlanthe and
Jacob Zuma, have continued to refuse to allow the contents of the documents to
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