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for the Count: Democracy in Zimbabwe Report
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A Brief Introduction
to the 2005 Zimbabwe Parliamentary Election Fact-Finding Missions
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
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"
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.
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.
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.
Visit the Solidarity
Peace Trust fact sheet
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