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SADC Mauritius protocol: Assessment of compliance with the protocol - Issue No. 4
Sokwanele
November 15, 2004

"Mauritius Watch" provides a regular, objective and non-partisan assessment of Zimbabwe’s compliance with the Protocol. In the run-up to the 2005 Parliamentary Elections we note any significant failures to adhere to the SADC standards.

Date

Incidents/Developments

SADC standards breached

11.11.04

ELECTORAL BILL UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Parliament’s Legal Committee said this week that proposed regulations banning civic bodies from carrying out voter education or accepting foreign funding for voter information programmes are unconstitutional.

In a major blow to the regime’s claims that that the proposed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Bill conforms to the SADC standards for democratic elections, the committee said the Bill also violated Section 18 (1) of the Constitution guaranteeing protection from the law.

The committee said that by barring Zimbabweans from mobilizing resources for voter education, the proposed law would infringe on citizens’ rights to freedom of expression guaranteed under Section 20 of the constitution.

The committee chaired by (Law) Professor Welshman Ncube who is secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change, also criticised the intention to bar Zimbabweans staying outside the country from taking part in voter education, either through participation or funding.

(For further details refer to ZimOnline (11th November) -www.zimonline.co.zw and the Zimbabwe Independent (12th November) - www.theindependent.co.zw

2.1.1. Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.8 Voter education

4.1.1. Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens

7.3 Establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified personnel …

5/11/04

MOVES TO ERASE OPPOSITION CONSTITUENCIES

It has emerged that a delimitation commission appointed by Robert Mugabe is considering abolishing at least two constituencies held by Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) The MDC shadow minister for foreign affairs, Priscilla Misihairabwi, told the London-based internet radio station Afro-Sounds that the delimitation commission wanted to erase her Glen Norah constituency and Gwanda north, now held by the party spokesperson, Paul Themba Nyathi.

The four man commission, tasked with redrawing constituency boundaries in accordance with shifting population patterns, was hand-picked by Mugabe, and as the MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube says, can be "relied upon to do the bidding of ZANU PF" Professor Ncube added, "This is particularly worrying if one has regard to the fact that the MDC has documentary evidence that the process of re-drawing the constituency boundaries, ahead of the March 2005 parliamentary elections, has already been carried out, under the instructions and guidance of the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation".

"By appointed new personnel to the Delimitation Commission, in order to provide it with a veneer of independence, and tasking them to carry the process of amending constituency boundaries ahead of the parliamentary elections, the government is clearly attempting to legitimize and rubber-stamp the discriminatory boundary changes that it has already carried out unlawfully. This is not in the spirit of the Mauritius agreement", said Professor Ncube.

(For further details see Mail & Guardian - http://www.mg.co.za

2.1.7. Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions

4.1.3. Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration

7.5. Take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process …

11.11.04

Amendments to AIPPA slammed

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (Crisis) representing a wide cross section of civic and church groups in the country, has slammed the proposed amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (AIPPA) Amendment Bill passed by parliament on November 9th.

Noting that the new Bill criminalizes the profession of journalism in Zimbabwe, Crisis states, "Once again the ruling ZANU PF party abused its parliamentary majority and voted in favour of the violation of Zimbabweans’ civil liberties particularly the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the country’s constitution".

The amendment provides that journalists found practising without accreditation are to be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine, imprisonment for up to two years or both such fine and imprisonment. A further amendment to AIPPA allows the minister responsible (Jonathan Moyo in this case) to constitute the board of the Media and Information Commission (MIC) without including nominees from an association of journalists or association of media houses if he so chooses.

"The amendments", reads the statement issued by Crisis, "are a flagrant violation of the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections and show a determination by ZANU PF to establish a pariah state".

(For the full statement refer to Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition website - www.crisis.org.zw

2.1.1. Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.5. Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media

4.1.1. Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens

4.1.2. Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.4. (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens, including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression …. during the electoral processes

05.11.04

Britain Zimbabwe Society slams NGO Bill

In an open letter to the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, the Britain Zimbabwe Society (BZS), a non-partisan society founded in 1981 to promote understanding and friendship between the peoples of the two countries, has expressed deep concern about the implications of the NGO Bill.

In the letter the BZS’s commitment to the well being of the Zimbabwean people is high-lighted with references to their fund raising activities for NGO’s concerned with rural water supplies, the rehabilitation of street children, the education of Aids orphans and support for such institutions as the University of Zimbabwe, the National Galleries and National Archives.

The letter reads in part: "The society has not previously made representations about Zimbabwean domestic legislation. But we write to you now to express deep unhappiness about the NGO Bill currently before the parliament of Zimbabwe. This Bill affects all the concerns and activities of the society".

The letter continues: "We welcome the SADC undertaking to ensure democratic participation by citizens of the region. But the NGO Bill and the limits it proposes on civil society runs counter to the principles set out in the African Union’s Constitutive Act and the SADC guidelines concerning the role of citizens in political life".

The letter is signed by Professor Terence Ranger and Diana Jeater, President and Chair of the BZS respectively.

(The full text of the letter may be seen in the Zimbabwe Independent (5th November 2004) -www.theindependent.co.zw

2.1.1. Full participation of citizens in the political process

7.4. (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression …

12.11.04

ARREST OF MDC CANDIDATE

Harare police on 1st November arrested the aspiring MDC candidate for the Marondera East constituency, Iain Kay, and held him for two days before releasing him without charge. It is believed Mr Kay was arrested in connection with the discovery by the police of copies of a statement by Morgan Tsvangirai, President of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

Before Mr Kay’s arrest members of his family and close friends were subjected to a barrage of intimidation and threats by a gang of four men who claimed they were members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), but whose bizarre activities led the family to believe they were in fact dealing with criminals and extortionists. On one occasion they took Mr Kay’s driver into the bush and pinched his testicles with pliers, demanding to know his employer’s whereabouts.

The Attorney General’s Office declined to prosecute and instructed the police to release Mr Kay forthwith. The police however refused to comply with the order, and it took a second written order from the Attorney General to secure his release late on 3rd November.

In the meantime one of Mr Kay’s interrogators, Dentist Chimanga of the Criminal Investigation Unit, is believed to have broken into Mr Kay’s house in order to effect an illegal search. During this time 30 million dollars worth of jewelry disappeared from the Kay’s residence. Mr Kay has said he intends to lay a charge of house-breaking and theft against the officer concerned and his criminal associates.

(For further details refer to the MDC information office – http://www.mdczimbabwe.com

2.1.1. Full participation of the citizens in the political process

2.1.2. Freedom of a association

2.1.3. Political tolerance

4.1.2. Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.4. (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning … during the electoral process

13.11.04

NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE PROGRAMME UPGRADED

According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper the National Youth Service Unit is now a full government department funded from the budget of its parent ministry rather than through a grant as before.

The Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, retired Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri, said that the full youth training programme is expected to resume this month. At a press conference the minister revealed that three of the six training centres established to date have undergone major renovations and are now ready to reopen. (These are at Kamativi in Matabeleland North, Mushagashe in Masvingo and Vumba in Manicaland) Two other centres are nearing completion at Chivhu in Mashonaland East and Chikwerengwe in Masvingo Province, and this will bring the total number of camps to eight. With an additional two provincial camps scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2005, Zimbabwe will then have 10 training camps in operation.

The National Youth Service Programme is responsible for the training of youth militia, popularly known as "green bombers", who have been used by ZANU PF in recent elections to instill terror among those sections of the community known or perceived to be sympathetic to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The programme has been severely critisised by human rights’ groups for brutalizing the youth concerned, indoctrinating them with ZANU PF propaganda and using them as a tool for (violent) political control.

(The above report appeared in the Herald on 13th November -http://www.herald.co.zw/For an objective assessment of the National Youth Service Training Programme see the Solidarity Peace Trust Report of 5th September 2003, entitled "Shaping youths in a truly Zimbabwean manner" - www.solidaritypeacetrust.org.za)

2.1.3 Political tolerance

4.1.2. Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.5 (Government to) take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process, in order to maintain peace and security

15.11.04

STATE MEDIA FOR ZANU PF PROPAGANDA BLITZ

The state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) is recording new propaganda music and television adverts to be used by the ruling ZANU PF party in next year’s general election. The wholly-state owned ZBH, known as Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, is the country’s only radio and television broadcasting company.

Sources at the public broadcaster said Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, who maintains an iron grip on ZBH, had recruited several musicians whom he was working with at ZBH Pocket’s Hill studios putting together an album of ZANU PF promotional songs and jingles to be released by December.

ZBH is still maintaining a virtual blackout on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and has on several occasions refused to flight paid adverts by the MDC, saying they were "too political".

(For further details refer to ZimOnline - www.zimonline.co.zw

2.1.5. Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media

7.4. (Government to) safeguard …access to the media on the part of all stakeholders, during the electoral process as provided for under 2.1.5.

On the basis of these and numerous other daily breaches of the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections, it can be seen that the Mugabe regime has yet to show any serious intent to change its ways or to begin to prepare for anything resembling fair and free elections. And the Parliamentary Elections are now less than four months away ….

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