By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
26 February 2014
More questions are being asked about a Zimbabwe election report that has gone ‘missing’ from a top South Africa judge’s chambers, with observers calling for the report authors to speak out.
The report was written by judges Sisi Khampepe and Dikgang Moseneke in 2002, after they were sent by then President Thabo Mbeki to report back on the elections in Zimbabwe that year. The report was never released to the public, although Mbeki endorsed the polls as a democratic process.
The elections however were seriously marred by violence and other irregularities, and in 2008 the Mail & Guardian newspaper went to the courts to have the document released. It argued that the evidence contained in the report was of public interest.
That report has now disappeared, a development that has coincided with plans by the Presidency to appeal against an order to release the document to the newspaper.
That order, the latest in a series of rulings confirming the newspaper’s rights to access the document, was made last year by High Court Judge Joseph Raulinga. He is one of the few ‘outsiders’ who has seen the contents of the report after taking a ‘judicial peek’ at the document in 2012. Raulinga ruled that there was enough evidence in the report to show that the electoral process in Zimbabwe in 2002 was neither free nor fair.
Political commentator Clifford Mashiri said Wednesday that the missing document should not delay the legal case to have the details released, saying: “In the age of the internet and computers, surely there will be more than one copy. Someone will have more than one copy.”
Mashiri also echoed calls made by other observers for the report’s authors to speak out.
“The judges could be called on to give a glimpse of what they wrote. The courts have ordered that the document be released, so I don’t see why the judges themselves can’t be interviewed or give their views,” Mashiri said.
Efforts by SW Radio Africa to contact Sisi Khampepe and Mail & Guardian lawyer Dario Milo are ongoing.