A long-hidden official observer report on the 2002 presidential elections in Zimbabwe, which the South African government fought for years to conceal, was finally released on Friday following a decision by South Africa’s Constitutional Court. The report, compiled by two South African judges and presented to then-President Thabo Mbeki, found that the elections that retained Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in power were neither free nor fair.
The document, known as the Khampepe report, indicates that though the actual voting process was largely orderly, the environment in which the election had taken place, which involved the murder and torture of opposition activists, repressed the free choice of the Zimbabwean people. Even so, the report indicates, the ruling ZANU-PF party had declined precipitously and was in the process of being rejected by the people.
South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), enjoys close historical and ideological ties with Mugabe and ZANU-PF. President Mbeki resisted calls to isolate Zimbabwe after the Mugabe regime began stealing commercial farms from white landowners and attacking political opponents. U.S. President George W. Bush criticized Mugabe regime but deferred to Mbeki’s judgment, calling Mbeki his “point man” on the issue.
At the time, the ANC called the Zimbabwean elections “legitimate.”
The repression continued, and Mugabe is still in power, more than 30 years after taking office. A significant portion of the Zimbabwean population has left in the past 15 years–or starved, as fertile farms, handed out to ruling party cronies, remained fallow.
The South African Mail & Guardian newspaper undertook the legal fight for the Khampepe report’s release.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
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