THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector
 
 
    HOME THE PROJECT DIRECTORYJOINARCHIVESEARCH E:ACTIVISMBLOGSMSFREEDOM FONELINKS CONTACT US
 

 


Back to Index

SADC Mauritius protocol: Assessment of compliance with the protocol - Issue No. 09
Sokwanele
December 20, 2004

On August 17 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

17.12.04

ACCESS TO STATE MEDIA DENIED

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has refused to air a political advertisement for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, in direct contravention of the SADC principles governing the conduct of elections in member countries. The MDC submitted the advertisement to the state broadcaster for transmission on national radio in early December, together with a guarantee of payment, but ZBC refused to air it.

"We submitted this advertisement with the view to having it broadcast by ZBC radio," said MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi. "ZBC refused to flight it on the basis that it has some offensive references to ZANU PF. We don’t believe that it was turned down because of its content," added Nyathi. "We believe that the problem was simply that the Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo, and ZANU PF refuse to adhere to the SADC Mauritius protocol."

ZBC officials at the state broadcaster’s commercial offices in Mbare took less than half an hour to make the decision to refuse to transmit the advertisement, saying that MDC advertisements should not criticise the government, or make any reference to ZANU PF, which in effect prevents any campaigning on national radio by opposition parties because they are unable to challenge either the ruling party’s record or its advertisements.

This effectively leaves the ruling ZANU PF with a total monopoly of the airwaves on state radio, a powerful means of campaigning. ZANU PF messages are broadcast daily and in recent elections they have used ZBC vehicles, equipment and personnel in the remotest rural areas to follow and report on their candidates exclusively.

(See the report on ZWNEWS: http://www.zwnews.com/)

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

7.4 (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of … expression and campaigning as well as access to the media on the part of all stakeholders during the electoral process …

13.12.04

MDC ISSUES REPORT ON ABUSE

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party has issued a catalogue of human rights abuses perpetrated against its members throughout 2004 by ruling party supporters and state agents. In a detailed report dated December 11, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) recorded a multitude of abuses including arbitrary arrests, abductions, rape, disruption of political meetings and destruction of property.

"The report is an indictment of the activities of the current government and underlines how political oppression in Zimbabwe remains a pervasive force," MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said. Seven opposition lawmakers, 53 party officials and hundreds of activists have been subjected to arrest, intimidation, beatings and torture, Nyathi said.

The catalogue of abuse includes references to the firebombing of an MDC official’s house in Zvishavane in January, and the violent assault in Shamva on a suspected opposition supporter who subsequently died of his injuries.

(For the full report see www.mdczimbabwe.org . The report was quoted in News24 (SA) - www.news24.com and repeated in ZWNews the same day -http://www.zwnews.com/ )

2.1.3 Political tolerance

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

7.5 (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

16.12.04

MDC MEETING BANNED SO ZANU PF MEETING MAY PROCEED

The police in Harare banned two meetings planned by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, one to pave way for a ruling ZANU PF party meeting and the other because the police did not want the MDC meeting at night.

The two meetings were scheduled for December 16 in the MDC strongholds of Harare and Chitungwiza. They were part of an estimated 5 000 meetings the party wants to hold across the country to conclude discussions with rank and file members on whether to participate in next year’s general election.

MDC secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube was unsure whether the police would also ban the remaining meetings.

The official police spokesperson, Oliver Mandipaka, refused to reveal to the press the reasons for banning the meetings. However, letters written to the MDC by the police indicate that the opposition party was barred from holding a meeting in Stodart Hall in order to allow a ZANU PF meeting to take place near the hall.

Note: The Public Order and Security Act (POSA), under which the police regularly ban opposition meetings, merely requires the organisers of any proposed public gathering to give four days’ written notice to the police authority, rather than obtaining their permission. The police do not have a general discretion in the matter but may, for certain specified reasons, prohibit the meeting. There is nothing in the Act which would authorise them to prohibit the holding of a meeting of one party in order to give preference to another.

(See Zim Online: www.zimonline.co.za)

2.1.1 Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.2 Freedom of association

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 and campaigning

16.12.04

ZANU PF WANTS BIGGER SHARE OF THE CAKE

The ruling ZANU PF party plans to amend the Political Parties (Finance) Act in order to give itself a bigger share of state financial grants at the expense of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The move is intended to financially cripple the MDC, which can no longer get funds from foreign donors or even from Zimbabweans living and working abroad after the government banned foreign-sourced funds for political parties.

"ZANU PF wants the grant allocation to be changed in its favour. This would hurt the MDC’s pocket besides obviously meaning more cash for ZANU PF," an official of the party confided to Zim Online on condition of anonymity.

It is understood that ZANU PF is seeking 65 per cent of the Z$ 6.5 billion allocated to political parties under the 2005 national budget, regardless of the percentage of votes it receives in the March ballot. At present parties are allocated their portion of state funds according to the percentage of votes they receive in a general election, and on this basis ZANU PF currently receives 51 per cent of the annual allocation.

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

4.1.6 Where applicable, funding of political parties must be transparent and based on agreed threshold in accordance with the laws of the land

17.12.04

ZANU PF SUPPORTERS CLASH IN MDC NO-GO AREA

Armed police had to be called in to break up violent clashes last week between rival factions of the ruling ZANU PF party at Magunje rural business centre, about 240 kilometres west of Harare.

Magunje and the surrounding Hurungwe rural district is a no-go area for the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In the past, militant ZANU PF supporters have hunted down and tortured suspected supporters of the MDC.

Last week however, the ZANU PF factions in the area turned upon each other. Police chief superintendent Ernest Masuku, in charge of Hurungwe police station, confirmed that his officers had arrested 22 ZANU PF supporters over clashes there on December 12.

Logs and iron bars were used in the violent confrontations between supporters of the ZANU PF Member of Parliament for the area, Phone Madiro, and supporters of Cecelia Gwachiwa, also a member of the ruling party, who is challenging the incumbent.

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

2.1.1 Full participation of the citizens in the political process

2.1.3 Political tolerance

4.1.1 Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens

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

7. 7 (Government to) ensure that adequate security is provided to all parties participating in the elections

17.12.04

EMBATTLED NGOs PREPARE TO SHUT DOWN

Human rights and pro-democracy groups met in Harare last week to discuss severance packages for workers and the disposal of furniture as they face closure after the ZANU PF-dominated Parliament banned foreign funding for the groups.

The Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) Bill was rammed through Parliament against spirited opposition from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party - and in defiance of an adverse report from Parliament’s own legal committee. The report advised that the legislation was in breach of the Constitution in several respects. The Bill will become law immediately it receives the presidential signature and is gazetted.

NGOs in the country employ about 10 000 people. It is understood that of the nearly 3 000 civic groups which operate in Zimbabwe, about 40 per cent, deal with governance-related issues and could face closure if they are prevented from accessing funds from foreign donors. As a result, uncertainty has gripped the NGO community, with foreign donors unsure as to whether they should continue giving support, even to groups that deal only in humanitarian aid.

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

2.1.1 Full participation of the citizens in the political process

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

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

17.12.04

MDC PROTESTERS DEMAND MP’s RELEASE

About 100 supporters of Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party protested in Harare on December 16, demanding the release of parliamentarian Roy Bennett from prison.

The protesters, who appeared to have taken the police by surprise, marched along Harare’s Nelson Mandela Avenue and along the capital’s First Street mall before armed police broke up the procession. They sang anti-government songs and distributed pamphlets reading: "We want our MP back", "Free Zimbabwe ! We want our freedom back".

Some of the protesters interviewed later vowed to continue the "Free Bennett Campaign" marches until the government releases him from prison.

Bennett, who is the popular MDC MP for the almost exclusively black Chimanimani constituency, was jailed in October for 12 months. ZANU PF parliamentarians used their majority in Parliament to send the legislator to prison as punishment for shoving Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa during a debate earlier this year. Chinamasa had referred in the debate to Bennett’s ancestors as thieves and murderers.

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

2.1.6 Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for

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

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 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 2005 Parliamentary Elections are now a matter of weeks away …..

Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.

TOP