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SADC Mauritius protocol: Assessment of compliance with the protocol - Issue No. 14
January 31, 2005

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.



SADC standards breached



An opposition candidate in the March election narrowly escaped injury after he was shot at near Insiza (120 kilometres south of Bulawayo) by ruling ZANU (PF) supporters, on the orders of Andrew Langa, member of parliament for the area and deputy minister of transport in Mugabe’s government.

The incident occurred on 22 January when Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate for Insiza, Siyabonga Malandu, was campaigning in the area with his entourage and they met Langa and his supporters.   Langa ordered his bodyguards to shoot at Malandu and his entourage, which they did, sending the MDC team scattering.  After firing the shots, Langa’s supporters captured three opposition supporters and assaulted them severely before handing them over to the police, who detained them before releasing them later the same day.

Malandu said that Langa had previously followed him to a voters’ roll inspection centre where he tried to block him from inspecting the roll. 

“At the voters’ roll inspection centre, Langa threatened to shoot me in front of the police, and said he will never be arrested. He even boasted that in 2002 he did the same and was never arrested,”  Malandu said. 

He said the matter was reported to the police at Gwanda where four police officers who were present confirmed in front of their superiors that Landa had made the threats to shoot Malandu. No action has so far been taken by the police.

In the run-up to the by-election for the Insiza constituency in 2002, Langa was accused of shooting and killing an MDC activist, Darlington Kadengu.   The police have yet to investigate that murder.   Langa’s victory in the violent by-election of 2002 was challenged by the MDC, but their challenge is still pending in the courts.

(See the report in the Zimbabwe Independent: 28.01.05 and on Zim Online: 26.01.05)

2.1.1  Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.2  Freedom of association

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

7.4 (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 …

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



At least 16 villagers from Chipinge South fled their homes into Mozambique after they were brutally assaulted by ZANU (PF) supporters and youth militia for supporting the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The villagers, mostly from the Mariya and Zamchiya areas, are surviving on wild fruits, mangoes, bananas and the generosity of Mozambiquans who are also providing them with shelter.

The villagers said the youth militia, who were travelling in a truck belonging to ZANU (PF) candidate for Chipinge South in the March elections, Enock Porusingazi, raided the homes of suspected MDC supporters, beating everyone in sight, even children and elderly people.  The truck was being driven by Porusingazi’s chief campaign manager, Simon Mapfumo.

One of the victims, Olismos Mutseyami of ward 25 in Mariya, who spent eight days in Mozambique, reported that at least 16 opposition party activists were still in Mozambique because they feared for their lives.

(The full report can be seen in The Standard: 23.01.05)

2.1.1 Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.2 Freedom of association

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, in order to maintain peace and security




As the harassment of opposition supporters continues unabated ahead of the parliamentary election due in March, police in Bulawayo last week arrested two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists for distributing flyers urging members of the public to go and inspect the voters’ roll.

Police in Lobengula picked up the two activists, Nompilo Ncube and Shepherd Chigumbura, on January 25 as they moved around distributing flyers.  The two were arrested and taken to Magwegwe police station where they were detained overnight.  MDC Bulawayo spokesperson, Victor Moyo, confirmed the arrest of the two activists and said the police had not indicated what charges, if any, would be brought against them.

The arrest of the activists came barely two days after the police arrested the MDC member of parliament for Makokoba, Ms Thokozani Khupe, together with a group of about 60 supporters who were holding a private meeting at her restaurant in the city. After spending a night in police cells strewn with human waste, the legislator was charged with a breach of the notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and released on bail.

On January 25 the police in Marondera arrested MDC national youth chairman and member of parliament for Kuwadzana, Nelson Chamisa, accusing him of inciting violence when he addressed party supporters in the area.

Commenting on the spate of arrests of opposition members and supporters, Victor Moyo said this was characteristic of ZANU (PF)’s tactics of using state-sponsored harassment against the opposition.

“The spate of arrests of MDC MPs and opposition supporters is one of ZANU (PF)’s tactics of intimidating the people ahead of the election.  The way the opposition is always hunted down shows that the political field is not even,” he said.

(See the report in the Zimbabwe Independent: 28.01.05)

2.1.1 Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.2 Freedom of association

2.1.3 Political tolerance

2.1.8 Voter education

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 … during the electoral process …




The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH)’s NewsNet has directed its reporters to give coverage to all opposition political parties except the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – this being the main opposition party which is presenting Robert Mugabe’s ZANU (PF) with the most formidable challenge it has faced in nearly 25 years of effective one party rule.  The reason given for the directive is that the MDC “has not confirmed participation” in the March general elections.

It is reported that ZBH NewsNet Editor-In-Chief, Tazzen Mandizvidza, a fortnight ago summoned all bureau chiefs to Harare and directed them to cover all opposition parties except the MDC. 

(See the report in The Standard: 23.01.05)

It is ironic that the one party selected for a news blackout is the party which, even on the disputed results of the 2000 parliamentary elections, nearly beat ZANU (PF) and whose presidential candidate in the 2002 poll, Morgan Tsvangirai, did, according to many well-informed sources, beat the incumbent, Robert Mugabe - only to have his victory fraudulently snatched from him. 

The ZBC has also refused to flight any advertisements for the MDC, and the state-controlled newspapers have adopted the same policy.

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 … access to the media on the part of allstakeholders …



The government has appointed a committee to take over the running of Mutare city from the opposition-controlled council. Mutare executive mayor, Misheck Kagurabadza, whose council was elected into office two years ago, yesterday confirmed that a committee had been appointed effectively to take control of the running of the city from his council.

It is understood the government intends in the next month to impose similar committees to wrest control of the democratically-elected councils of Masvingo and Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo.  Both cities are now run by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

It is reported that the government, which in 2002 fired Harare’s MDC executive mayor, Elias Mudzuri, and last year appointed a commission to run the capital, is intent on seizing control of all major cities ahead of the March general election.

“The government wants to wrestle back control of these towns because they view the MDC mayors as a problem,” said one government official, who did not want to be named.

(Read the report in Zim Online: 27.01.05)

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




Public servants, rather than independent observers, will monitor the March parliamentary election according to the justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa.  The decision was immediately criticized as being likely to further compromise the integrity of the election, although Chinamasa said it was intended purely to enable the government to discipline the observers “if they do any monkey business.”

News of the decision came as a group of lawyers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) arrived to assess Zimbabwe’s compliance with the group’s principles and guidelines on democratic elections.

Robert Mugabe has not yet set a date for the election, but there is already widespread concern over its integrity after a series of laws were passed effectively putting the ruling ZANU (PF) party in charge of the process and appointing soldiers, police, prison wardens and other government staff to key positions.

Khabele Matlosa, research director at the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, which helps monitor elections in the region, said while the move was not against SADC guidelines, the use of public servants rather than non-governmental organisations would compromise the poll.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said the guidelines were very clear on the need for elections to be monitored by impartial individuals.  “Given that the public service in Zimbabwe has been heavily politicized in recent years, there can be no guarantee that the public servants will discharge their duties in an impartial manner,” it said.

(Read the report in Business Day (SA): 28.01.05)

4.1.2 Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.3 (Government to) establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable electoral bodies … to arbitrate in the event of disputes arising from the conduct of elections



Thousands of eligible Zimbabweans will not be able to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections without producing written proof that they reside in the constituency where they are registered.  In a last-minute public notice published in the official Herald newspaper, the Registrar-General’s office said prospective voters in urban areas should present inspection officers with payment slips for water, electricity or other rates or written statements from landlords confirming their tenancy within the constituency.  Voters in rural areas are required to produce written confirmation from their wardcouncillorsand traditional chiefs. 

Civic groups and the political opposition have expressed concern over the new demands, while political analysts have said they would discourage potential voters from participating in the poll.

It is thought the stringent new requirements are bound to work in favour of the ruling ZANU (PF), especially in rural areas where ZANU (PF) have made strenuous attempts in recent months to co-opt traditional leaders by awarding them vehicles and tax free allowances.*  There are already many reports coming in from rural areas of cases in which traditional leaders have refused to provide the necessary letters of confirmation to known or suspected supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.  

In the towns, many lodgers are unable to provide the documentation required of them.  The late notification of these new requirements has also caused massive problems since many eligible voters were unaware of them when they called to check their names on the voters’ roll, and that exercise was completed on Sunday 30 January.

(See the report of IRIN (UN) quoted in ZW News: 29.01.05)

*Zimbabwe Independent report:  7 January 2005:

At the annual chiefs’ conference in Bulawayo during 2004, Chief Jonathan Mangwende, (president of the Chiefs’ Council), implored President Mugabe to maintain his grip on power.

"We made a splendid job of campaigning for you during the presidential election and my colleagues are disturbed by rumours that you want to retire. We want you to stay," Mangwende said

The chiefs have since been issued with vehicles at heavily subsidised prices that will be fuelled by money from peasants fined for numerous offences over which chiefs now enjoy jurisdiction. Most of the chiefs have also had their homesteads electrified and boreholes sunk to make them as amenable to Zanu PF’s whims as possible.

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

4.1.3 Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration

4.1.4  Existence of updated and accessible voters’ roll




SOKWANELE has also now produced a detailed analysis of the Zimbabwean statutes that are in breach of the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections and the policy breaches by the ZANU PF government. Entitled “ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL LEGISLATION : SADC CHECK LIST”  the document can be seen on our website at




On January 21 the Institute for War and Peace Reporting launched a project to provide intensive special coverage of the Zimbabwean election campaign and the vote.  IWPR is an international not-for-profit training and media development organisation which has won numerous awards for development and human rights reporting in conflict and crisis areas from the Balkans to Iraq.

IWPR is widely known for providing an international platform for local voices.  But in the Zimbabwean context, dissemination within the region is the priority, and IWPR reports and photographs are available without charge to African media for replication.

Visit their website at:



 Note: The fraudulent and violence-ridden elections of 2000 and 2002 were narrowly “won” by Robert Mugabe, who has maintained his iron grip on the country by using strategies designed to annihilate all forms of opposition.

While a date for the Parliamentary Elections is still awaited, already it can be seen that there is no prospect that those elections will be fair and free. During the fourteen weeks that Sokwanele has been systematically tracking and recording developments, it has become increasingly apparent that the regime is moving further away from the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections, rather than towards compliance. The regime is going to some lengths within the region to portray itself as moving to meet those criteria, but the reality is totally different. Behind the façade of democracy, every institution or legal principle which would favour a free and fair election has been systematically destroyed to ensure that the poll will produce a pre-determined result favouring ZANU (PF).

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