SA ‘unlikely’ to act on Zim election rigging

Pressing domestic issues and a looming election in South Africa mean the country is unlikely to take any decisive action on election rigging in Zimbabwe, despite a dossier of ‘evidence’ being circulated by the MDC-T.

The dossier is understood to contain more details of how ZANU PF, with the backing of the military and groups like Nikuv, manipulated the July elections to ensure an outright victory. This evidence backs up accounts from across the country of serious irregularities that marred the poll.

South Africa, along with the rest of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), has already endorsed ZANU PF’s and Robert Mugabe’s victory. Regardless of this, the MDC-T has approached Jacob Zuma, as the former regional mediator in Zimbabwe, with the new evidence. Other African leaders are understood to have been given the document too.

Trevor Maisiri, a Senior Analyst on Southern Africa at the International Crisis Group, told SW Radio Africa that the Zuma administration is “unlikely to take any decisive action,” because of its own domestic challenges.

“The Zimbabwe election set a trend for regional elections, in that the SADC position was taken on the result (of the poll) and all countries concurred. President Zuma himself goes into an election in 2014, so would he want to risk the wrath of SADC if anything happens during those elections (in South Africa)?” Maisiri questioned.

He added: “So what will happen is the MDC may go to South Africa, but I believe South Africa is so consumed with its own domestic affairs and there won’t be any courage for South Africa to take decisive action on Zimbabwe before their own elections.”

Maisiri criticised South Africa for playing a “convenience game,” by only defending the rule of law and democracy when it is ‘convenient’. He said this was why the Zuma administration was seeking to overturn key legal rulings that would see it facing off against ZANU PF.

Most recently, the South African National Prosecuting Authority and the police are seeking to overturn a landmark legal ruling, compelling them to investigate crimes against humanity committed in Zimbabwe. The ruling was made by a South African high court last year and is based on evidence of politically motivated torture and abuse committed against MDC supporters and members in 2007.

But the South African authorities are seeking to overturn this order, despite being signatories to the Rome Statute, which formed the International Criminal Court (ICC). That Statute means South Africa is obligated to investigate crimes against humanity, even if those crimes are not committed within its borders.

The attempts to overturn this ruling meanwhile come as the South African presidency is still fighting to keep a report on Zimbabwe’s 2002 elections secret, despite a court order to release the document. The report, which a High Court judge has revealed contains enough evidence to question the legality of that poll, has been kept under wraps for over ten years.

“South Africa doesn’t want to be put in the forefront of SADC as the country that is exposing Mugabe and ZANU PF and pushing ZANU PF to the corner. Which is why the Zuma administration is making all efforts to try to quash any legal battles which seem to force the South African government to expose ZANU PF,” Maisiri said.

He added: “If it is convenient for South Africa to push human rights issues, it does so, but if it is convenient to ignore or quash those issues, it will.” – SW Radio Africa

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