By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
19 February 2014
A highly sought-after report on the controversial 2002 Zimbabwe presidential elections has vanished from South Africa’s Pretoria High Court.
The report is at the centre of a legal battle between the SA government and the Mail & Guardian newspaper, which has been fighting for its release since 2008.
Earlier last year, SA High Court Judge Joseph Raulinga ordered President Jacob Zuma to hand over the report to the M&G within 10 days.
This was after the judge had read the report and concluded that it cast doubt over the legality of the Zim elections – which were ‘won’ by ZANU PF’s Robert Mugabe.
The SA presidency however appealed the order, just as they had done with three previous rulings to make the document available to the public.
It is unclear how the report detailing the findings of two SA judges, sent by then-president Thabo Mbeki to observe the 2002 Zim elections,vanished.
But Judge Raulinga, who was keeping it in his office, told both legal teams last week that he had his suspicions and was investigating, the M&G said Friday.
According to the newspaper: “Between December last year and February this year a senior state attorney had made several unsolicited and unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the report from the judge’s custody, in his absence.”
The SA Presidency claims that the missing copy was the only one it had.
The South African newspaper maintains that it is important to make the confidential report public to enable SA, a key player in regional politics, to understand what went wrong in the 2002 election.
“If our President (in 2002) was informed by two eminent judges of serious problems with that election and reacted in the way he did, which was effectively to endorse that stolen election, then there are things the current administration can learn,” Nick Dawes, then editor at the M&G newspaper, told this station last year.
Current SA President Zuma was among the first regional leaders to endorse last year’s July 31st election which was again controversially ‘won’ by Mugabe and ZANU PF, sparking an outcry from many Zimbabweans who condemned the poll as neither free, fair, nor credible.