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SADC Mauritius protocol: Assessment of compliance with the protocol - Issue No. 07
Sokwanele
December 06, 2004

On 17 August 2004, SADC leaders meeting in Mauritius adopted the SADC Protocol – Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Zimbabwe, as a member of SADC, also signed the Protocol and committed itself to implementing its standards.

“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

03.12.04

POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON THE RISE

According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHRF), tension and political violence continue rising in Zimbabwe ahead of the crucial general election scheduled for March next year.

The ZHRF is a coalition of 17 of the biggest human rights and pro-democracy non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe. It regularly monitors human rights violations and politically motivated violence in the country.

In a report released last week highlighting political violence and human rights abuses in the month of September, the forum said the victimization of mostly supporters of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) peaked in the middle of the month during the MDC’s fifth anniversary celebrations.

The forum also noted the increasing and unlawful use of excessive force by the police against perceived political opponents of the government.

In September alone the forum recorded six cases of torture suffered by opposition supporters, bringing the total number of torture cases recorded since January 2004 to 165. There were also six cases of politically motivated kidnappings and 141 cases of unlawful arrests of citizens by the police during the month.

Under the new Non-Government Organizations (NGO) Act, the ZHRF, along with other NGOs concerned with human rights abuses and electoral issues, faces almost certain closure.

Note: In a report released in July 2004, Redress, a British-based lobby group, refers to documented examples compiled by local human rights groups of nearly 9 000 human rights violations committed in Zimbabwe from 2001 to 2003. It covers incidents such as torture, abduction and murder, and notes that the scale of abuse increases in the run-up to elections. (Suggest we add this).

(See the report on Zim Online – www.zimonline.co.za)

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…

29.11.04

DEAFENING SILENCE AS MUGABE FLOUTS POLL PROTOCOL

(Excerpts from an opinion piece published in the South African newspaper, Business Day, on 29 November 2004):

"A recently published story about Shadreck Chipanga, a former member of Zimbabwe’s notorious secret service and current deputy home affairs minister, who was seen presiding over the disemboweling of an opposition supporter during the country’s 2000 elections, makes disturbing reading.

"A high court judge deemed Chipanga’s actions bad enough to warrant cancellation of the election result that saw the ZANU PF thug assume a parliamentary seat by a tiny margin over the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). President Robert Mugabe not only ignored the ruling but elevated his man to the cabinet. That this individual was then appointed a senior election observer of the recent Namibian elections by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum highlights a patent lack of concern for integrity in election processes, both in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the region.

"With the Zimbabwean elections just around the corner, it looks like ‘business as usual’ in that benighted land. … Far from moving away from biased and manipulative election laws, the ruling party has rammed through election legislation that is even more one-sided and unacceptable than that already on the statute books …

"There was much fanfare about the SADC election code for member countries approved in August at a heads of state summit. Mugabe signed up to it, promised to implement it, then went home and ignored it. Even worse, he devised new measures that flagrantly violated it …"

(For the full transcript see Business Day – www.bday.co.za)

PRINCIPLES FOR CONDUCTING DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS

2.1.1 Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.2 Political tolerance

GUIDELINES FOR OBSERVATIONS OF ELECTIONS

4.1.1 Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens

4.1.2 Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBER STATE HOLDING ELECTIONS

7.4. Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …

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

01.12.04

MUGABE’S SPIES GET MASSIVE FUNDING

In presenting his 2005 Budget to Parliament last week, the Acting Minister of Finance revealed that a massive allocation of funds and resources was to be made to Zimbabwe’s notorious spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO). As the 2005 general elections approach, the CIO is to have its 2004 budget (Z$62 billion) increased more than six-fold, to Z$395.8 billion.

The CIO’s 2004 budget was overspent by more than 60 per cent - without recourse to Parliament for approval.

A separate equipment procurement account for special services is also set to increase from Z$10 billion to Z$ 61.3 billion in 2005. The Mugabe regime has refused to disclose what sort of equipment the CIO is due to receive. The whole budget allocation for the spy service falls directly under the President’s office and is not subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

Human rights groups have consistently accused Mugabe of using the CIO to crush the voices of dissent in a bid to hold onto power.

The much feared spy agency stands accused of systematically masterminding the harassment and torture of opposition MDC supporters in the run up to elections.

(See the report in Zim Online – www.zimonline.co.za)

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 …

(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

02.12.04

SOUTH AFRICA MUST APPLY PRESSURE FOR FREE AND FAIR POLL – THINK-TANK

African institutions, and above all South Africa, need to apply pressure to make Zimbabwe’s forthcoming general elections fair and free. This is the view of the International Crisis Group (ICG), an influential think-tank. In its latest report entitled, "Zimbabwe: Another Election Chance", released simultaneously in Pretoria and Brussels on 30th November, the ICG says that the election scheduled for March 2005 is a "small opening for returning to genuine politics as a means of resolving the country’s deep crisis".

"The chance that the elections … can be a genuine turning point is small, but it is there - if African leaders push the ZANU PF regime to live up to its commitments," says Suliman Baldo, Director of Crisis Group’s Africa Programme. "The regime wants a C-minus election – fairly clean on election day but deeply flawed by months of non-democratic practices that determine the results in advance. African monitoring teams need to be in the country by 1 January and then press hard for the creation of a level playing field," he says.

The ICG report notes that ZANU PF continues to use repression and to manipulate food aid unscrupulously for partisan purposes.

Further on, the report says that the steps taken by Mugabe purportedly to achieve compliance with the SADC electoral standards are "seriously flawed".

"Repressive laws need to be repealed, and a genuinely independent electoral commission operating at least two months before the election day or the elections should be postponed – they do not need to be held before September – to allow those essential steps to be taken,"

Among its specific recommendations the ICG calls on ZANU PF to implement the SADC principles and guidelines on democratic elections "in letter and spirit" by 1 January 2005, including the repeal of repressive legislation, restoring the rule of law and political freedoms, disbanding the youth militias, ceasing the manipulating of food aid for political purposes and desisting from the use of hate speech in public and in the press.

The group calls on the South African government to press the Zimbabwean government to repeal repressive laws and to adhere to SADC standards. SADC is urged to set specific timelines for the incorporation of these standards into national law and to send a team by 1 January 2005 to work with ZANU PF and the MDC on implementation of the protocol’s principles and guidelines, in letter and spirit, and then to monitor the elections.

(See the ICG Report on - www.intl-crisis-group.org )

4.1.2 Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.3 (Government to) establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies …

7.4 (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 ….

7.10 (Government to) … issue invitation to SADC 90 days before the voting day in order to allow an adequate preparation for the deployment of the electoral observation mission

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. In fact, a new raft of oppressive legislation rushed through Parliament recently will result in a situation even worse than that which prevailed during the Parliamentary Elections of 2000 and Presidential Election of 2002, both of which were heavily criticized by observer missions from the international community.

And the March Parliamentary Elections are now a matter of weeks away …..

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