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Out for the Count: Democracy in Zimbabwe Report
Solidarity Peace Trust
May 2005

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A Brief Introduction to the 2005 Zimbabwe Parliamentary Election Fact-Finding Missions
The 2005 Parliamentary Election fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe conducted by South African Church leaders, Ecumenical Monitors, and a member of the Academy was at the invitation of the Solidarity Peace Trust, South Africa. The mission was conducted in two phases, as outlined below.

The findings in this report are those of these two separate, but linked, South African observer groups. Each group produced its own report, and both reports are reproduced here, in accordance with their findings. The first observation mission report is in the "Pre-election" section, and the second observation mission report is in the "Election" section.

Phase I was a visit by a small select group of Church Leaders, and a member of the Academy, taking place early in March 2005. The group was divided into two; three persons remained within Bulawayo and its environs, while three were despatched to Harare. This fact-finding group was exposed to individuals and communities in Bulawayo, Harare, and surrounding rural areas. The group had an intensive series of interviews with religious, civic and civil society leaders, and attended political rallies. This enabled them to audit the many voices that are presently emanating from within Zimbabwean society during the run-up to the 31 March parliamentary elections, and yet are denied the right of access to open and rigorous debate within the public sphere.

The Church Leaders Group consisted of four ordained priests, a church youth worker and a university professor who acted in his personal capacity as an independent consultant. They were as follows: Archbishop J A Jele (African Ethiopian Church); Rev. Gugu E Shelembe (Assemblies of Christ); Rev. M H Kentane (International Assemblies of God); Rev. Gary S D Leonard (University of KwaZulu-Natal); Mr Mandla Thushini (Apostolic Faith Mission) and Prof. Zola Sonkosi, (Independent Consultant). A seventh member of our Group, Rev. Emmanuel Buthelezi was refused entry with no reason given, at the Botswana-Zimbabwe Border Post and as a result was unable to participate in the fact-finding mission.

Phase II consisted of a group of twenty experienced election monitors, drawn from Church-based Ecumenical Agencies in KwaZulu-Natal that partnered with the Solidarity Peace Trust. These were: the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness (PACSA); the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC); and the KwaZulu Regional Christian Council (KRCC). The majority of this group of monitors had monitored previous elections in Zimbabwe and so were familiar with the political background and terrain. This group travelled to Zimbabwe mid-March 2005 through various entry points, and on different dates, utilising travel by bus and air and were dispersed throughout the Country, lodging with Church Pastors, Priests, leaders and laity alike from a diverse spectrum of Christian denominations. They spent two to three weeks mainly in small rural business centres across the country, in order to absorb life of ordinary Zimbabweans and to unofficially observe the elections. They returned to South Africa in early April 2005. Their reports reflected not only on the election process, but on the hardships of life in Zimbabwe. On return to South Africa, they have been able to speak to their own church communities with personal insight into the plight of Zimbabwe's people.

Both groups were briefed in South Africa prior to the visit, and at the conclusion of their monitoring visits, de-briefing sessions was held in Bulawayo and Harare, which were video-taped. Each member of the groups submitted a written evaluation report once back in South Africa. These reports together with the video discussions have formed the basis of the current compilation of findings.

The visit was facilitated by the Solidarity Peace Trust and its associates in Zimbabwe. Other than a very modest per diem allowance to cover personal items, immediate travel and accommodation costs, the South Africans received no payment for their services, but voluntarily undertook the fact-finding mission as part of their commitment to the development of a strong, vibrant and open democratic civil society in the neighbouring state of Zimbabwe, graciously fitting the monitoring visit into their already busy lives. The group was strictly non-aligned as far as Zimbabwean or South African party-politics was concerned.

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