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SADC Mauritius protocol: Assessment of compliance with the protocol - Issue No. 15
February 07, 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.

This special weekly feature assumes an even greater significance now that the date of the Parliamentary Elections has been announced – 31st March. Less than 8 weeks remain before this crucial poll.

Last week the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), announced that it would be contesting the Elections. Although noting that "the regime has failed and failed dismally to comply with the (SADC) guidelines", and declaring that "a free and fair election is not possible in Zimbabwe under the present conditions", the National Council of the MDC decided "with a heavy heart" to participate in the electoral process. The statement announcing their decision ends: "We participate under protest. We participate without prejudice. We participate to keep the flames of hope for change alive."



SADC standards breached


800 000 deceased Zimbabweans still on voters’ register

Less than eight weeks before the date of the parliamentary elections announced by Robert Mugabe, the voters’ roll remains in a complete shambles with the names of 800 000 deceased Zimbabweans still appearing on it. This is among a litany of "chronic errors" that could render an accurate and democratic election in March impossible according to a report just released by an independent research group. FreeZim, which compiled the report after carrying out extensive research on Zimbabwe’s shambolic voters’ roll, is a local non-governmental organisation set up in 2002.

In addition to the 800 000 names of deceased voters on the roll, FreeZim also established that another 900 000 people listed as eligible voters are not known or do not live at the addresses under which their names appear. FreeZim has already presented these findings in its preliminary report to the newly appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The chairman of the ZEC is High Court Judge George Chiweshe, a known ally of Robert Mugabe.

Among the startling revelations in the FreeZim report is the fact that in the Harare North constituency, 50 per cent of the people registered as voters there do not live at the addresses under which their names appear. The research group also said that they had identified 300 000 names of voters that are duplicated over and again on several pages of the register.

"Over two million of the 5.6 million names registered as voters are suspect – it is obvious that there are chronic errors and the roll is overstated by chronic proportions and cannot be ignored," the group concludes.

(See the report in Zim Online (SA) 4.02.05)

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



An elderly official of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was last week severely assaulted by ZANU (PF) militia, who accused him of selling MDC membership cards.

Dinason Mbwana is the MDC branch chairman for Epworth and a tailor by trade. It was while he was visiting the authorities at Epworth Secondary School over an order for school uniforms that he was accosted by about a dozen *youth militia. They dragged him into the bush and brutally assaulted him with logs, sticks and sjamboks until he lost consciousness.

According to a medical report prepared by Dr Tarirai Madamombe of Harare Central Hospital, the probability of permanent injuries as a result of the assault were "highly possible".

Mbwana was able to identify two of his assailants and he made a report to the local police. However no arrests have been made and efforts to get a comment from Constable Madondo, the investigating officer, proved fruitless.

(The full report can be seen in The Standard (30.01.05) …..

*Youth militia: The Mugabe regime plans to incorporate more than 20 000 of its controversial youth militias into the 21 000 strong police force ahead of the March parliamentary election – see full article in our Mauritius Watch Report, Issue 11 of 10 January 2005.

(See the report in Zim Online: 8.02.05)

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) 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



Thirteen opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party activists were arrested and fined Z$ 25 0000 each by the police for allegedly insulting Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Abednico Ncube of the ruling ZANU-PF. The activists were campaigning in the Gwanda area at the time when they met Ncube who was also on the campaign trail. They waved their open palms at Ncube, which the deputy minister claimed was insulting to him because the open palm is a symbol of the opposition party.

The MDC publicity secretary for Matabeland South, Edward Mkhosi, expressed surprise that the police had chosen to treat the giving of the MDC sign as a chargeable offence. "We see this as a part of a common pattern of intimidation that is returning to the province and the country at large," he said.

(Reported by Zim Online: 5.02.05)

2.1.1 Full participation of citizens in the political process

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 …



Joseph Mwale, the dreaded Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) state security agent accused of master-minding the gruesome murder of two opposition MDC activists during the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary poll, remains a free man despite a court order to have him arrested.

Although the police are aware of his whereabouts, Mwale, now sporting a heavy beard to disguise his identity, remains at liberty. It is widely known that he now operates in the Mutoko District, some 200 km north-east of Harare.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has condemned the government for deliberately failing to take action against Mwale.

The CIO operative stands accused of murdering Talent Mabika, an MDC youth activist, and Tichaona Chiminya, the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s personal assistant at Murambinda Growth Point in Buhera in 2000.

The MDC activists were burnt to death when the vehicle they were travelling in was torched by Mwale and three of his accomplices. The accomplices have since been charged with murder and released on bail.

It is understood that the impunity Mwale enjoys is linked to his popularity with the ruling elite on account of the success of the violent campaign he waged in destabilizing the farming operations of MDC legislator (and MP for Chimanimani), Roy Bennett at Charleswood Estate.

"That one is a blue-eyed boy for the chefs (senior ZANU (PF) officials)," said a police officer based in Chimanimani. "He worked for them so tirelessly. Had it not been for him, Bennett could still be at his farm but Mwale made sure he was evicted and that happened."

At a recent ZANU (PF) provincial co-ordinating committee it was pointed out that the services of Mwale and his three accomplices were crucial to retaining the Buhera North seat.

(See the full report in Zim Online: 04.02.05)

4.1.2 Conduciveenvironment 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



The decision by the Mugabe regime to ban all Zimbabweans living abroad from voting in the parliamentary elections, except military personnel and diplomats (who are loyal to the regime), is to be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa confirmed she had launched a constitutional case on behalf of the London-based Diaspora Vote Action Group, seeking to overturn the "illegal and unconstitutional" decision to bar Zimbabweans living abroad from voting.

"The refusal for non-resident Zimbabwean-registered voters to participate in elections is unconstitutional and not in line with many protocols, including the recently agreed Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on free and fair elections," said Mtetwa.

"Other regional countries which have recently held elections, including Namibia and Mozambique, allowed their (non resident) nationals to vote. Why should Zimbabweans be excluded from exercising their political rights while being actively encouraged to pursue their economic rights through facilities like *Homelink?" she asked.

If successful, the court application could benefit an estimated four million Zimbabweans living abroad, mainly in South Africa, the United Kingdom, America and Europe.

But it is unclear whether the Supreme Court, now packed with pro-Mugabe judges, would even consider entertaining the application before the elections.

(Reported in Zim Online: 01.02.05)

*Homelink is a plan mooted by Zimbabwe Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, through which Zimbabweans in the diaspora have been urged to send much-needed foreign currency home. Given the extent of the diaspora – estimated at between 3 and 4 million politically and economically displaced people - the project could help to revive the crisis-ridden economy and raise the shattered credibility of the Mugabe regime.

Gono’s plan was met with anger and jeers in the United Kingdom and in South Africa where the majority of displaced Zimbabweans who have fled the state-sponsored violence are struggling to survive under extremely difficult circumstances.

2.1.1 Full participation of citizens in the electoral process

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

2.1.7 Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of electoral institutions

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

4.1.3 Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration

7.2 (Government to) establish where none exist, appropriate institutions where issues such as … citizenship, residency … and compilation of voters’ registers would be addressed



The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is training 7 500 election monitors but the civic group is unsure whether they will be allowed to observe the March parliamentary poll.

In the 2002 presidential election the government accredited only 400 ZESN monitors out of the 12 000 the pro-democracy organisation had trained to observe the poll, controversially won by Robert Mugabe.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which was appointed a few weeks ago to oversee elections, is yet to send invitations to either local or foreign observers to monitor the March ballot.

The Mugabe regime has in the past threatened to bar ZESN and other local non-governmental organizations from observing elections, accusing them of being pro-opposition.

(Reported in Zim Online: 31.01.05)

NOTE: The Mugabe regime is already in flagrant breach of Article 7.10 of the SADC Protocol, which requires the "relevant electoral institutions" of the host country to issue an invitation to SADC 90 (ninety) days before the voting day "in order to allow an adequate preparation for the deployment of the Electoral Observation Mission". Less than two months remain before the parliamentary election, which Mugabe has decreed will take place on March 31.

7.8 (Government to) ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process by facilitating the deployment of representatives of political parties and individual candidates at polling and counting stations and by accrediting national and/other observers/monitors

7.10 (Government to) issue invitation to SADC 90 days before the voting day …



Zimbabwe cannot hold a democratic election next month because heavily militarized electoral systems and institutions as well as draconian legislation continue to tilt the scale in favour of the ruling ZANU (PF) party, according to the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) group.

The CZC is a coalition of major pro-democracy and human rights groups, churches, women’s and students’ groups and the labour movement in Zimbabwe.

In the report entitled "Things Fall Apart", the CZC bemoans the deployment of military officers loyal to Mugabe and his ZANU (PF) party at the centre of the election system and state institutions responsible for government.

"Despite minor and cosmetic changes, the electoral laws are still heavily weighed in favour of the incumbent – electoral processes and institutions continue to be militarized or Zanuised", reads part of the report which is expected to be handed over to SADC later this month.

In addition to the militarization of the electoral system, security and media laws enacted by the Mugabe regime in the last five years have drastically reduced the democratic space, to the point at which it is nearly impossible for the opposition to carry out its activities or to campaign.

(Reported in Zim Online: 02.02.05)

2.1.3 Political tolerance

2.1.7 Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions

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 …




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


Note: The fraudulent and violence-ridden elections of 2000 and 2002 were narrowly "won" by Robert Mugabe and his ZANU (PF) party, who have maintained their iron grip on the country by using strategies designed to annihilate all forms of opposition.

As many independent commentators have already pointed out, there is no prospect that the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 31 will be fair and free. Equally, given the magnitude of the task and the few weeks remaining before the poll, there is no prospect of the regime’s compliance with the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections. Indeed, in recent months we have witnessed a steady movement by the regime away from compliance with any international norms for democratic elections. Behind the façade of democracy which the regime likes to put on all their activities, we have seen a deliberate and systematic attempt to subvert every institution of government in order to secure in the forthcoming poll a pre-determined result favouring ZANU (PF).

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