01 June 2009

SAHA seek access to General’s report on violence in Zimbabwe.

SAHA, in conjunction with the Southern African Centre for the Survivors of Torture (SACST) and the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), have requested access to the Generals' Report into the violence in Zimbabwe subsequent to the election there last year. The Report was commissioned by former President Thabo Mbeki.

In response to the request the Presidency has denied that a written report on the post-election violence in Zimbabwe was provided to Mbeki (in his capacity as SADC's Mediator) by former South African generals. It has also denied the existence of any written terms of reference for the generals' mission and maintains that no documents were made available to the generals for the purpose of compiling their report. Affidavits from Frank Chikane, former Director-General and Information Officer in the Presidency, and Trevor Fowler, currently the acting DG in the Presidency, maintain that no report or supporting documentation exists and that the generals reported only orally to former president Mbeki.

Although little was publicly disclosed about the generals' mission, outside of their deployment to ascertain the nature and causes of the violence that erupted following the March 2008 elections, it is known that the generals entered Zimbabwe on 3 May 2008, and returned for a second mission in June 2008. Amongst the Generals who were tasked with compiling the report were: foremr army chief , Lt Gilbert General Romano, Brigadier-General Ray Moerane and Lt-General Lambert Moloi.

SAHA considers the Presidency's response to be dubious at best, especially as the report is believed to have been hard-hitting and instrumental in the evolution of subsequent negotiations leading to the September Global Political Agreement. Says Piers Pigou, former director of SAHA: "It is surprising to say the least that the generals would not have issued a written report to the (former) President given ZANU-PF's propensity for denial of violence and human rights violations, and the need for the mediator to have an empirical base around which to engage them on such issues. This denial reminds one of former President de Klerk's denial of the existence of the Steyn Report, which profiled allegations about South African security force involvement in violence and destabilisation in he early 1990s."

SAHA are in the process of submitting an internal appeal to the Minister in President, which - if successful - would compel the Presidency to release the report in question.

It should be noted, although the Democratic Alliance (DA) have also submitted a PAIA request for the General's report, that request was separate and totally independent of the request submitted by SAHA, the SACST and SALC.

Related media reports online:
Mbeki never got Zim report

SA Presidency accused of hiding Zim violence report

Zuma accused of lying about Zim report