The weekly Mail and Guardian newspaper wants Zuma to release the report of the 2002 Zimbabwe elections, which was commissioned by the
then South African President Thabo Mbeki and complied by six army generals. The findings of the report have never been known despite
pressure from human rights groups and political parties on both sides of the Limpopo.
The paper filed an application on Monday at the North Gauteng High Court to try and force Zuma to release the report. The application was
made by the paper’s editor, Nic Dawes using the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
Advocate Marumo Moerane SC said the release of a report by two of South Africa’s top judges on the fairness of the 2002 presidential election in Zimbabwe would be “detrimental to peace in Zimbabwe”.
Morane told the court in Pretoria that it should dismiss an application by the Mail & Guardian newspaper for access to a report compiled by Judges Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Khampepe.
Moerane argued that the two judges were sent to Zimbabwe as “special envoys” of former President Thabo Mbeki and had received all the information from the Zimbabwean government in confidence.
The disclosure of such information could impair SA’s ability to play a facilitating role in assisting Zimbabweans to resolve their political differences. He submitted that the government still relied on the report to shape policy on developments in Zimbabwe.
But Zuma has in the past said that he can not release the report because it does not apply to him since it was commissioned by Mbeki
but the Mail and Gurdian argues that everything including the report was handed to him when he took over as South African President. The
report was supposed to assess the extent to which the army was involved in the political crisis that followed the 2008 elections, which left hundreds of people dead, thousands others injured and others displaced.
The presidency insist the revelation of the report would lead to a deterioration of relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The newspaper contended the report was of enormous public interest, especially where there was a widespread view that the 2002 elections were marred by vote-rigging, intimidation, violence and fraud by President Robert Mugabe’s government.
It contended the report was particularly important in light of the fact that South Africa was one of the only countries to declare the elections free and fair.
Moerane stressed the need for confidentiality and trust between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“In the respondents’ view, it would not only be remiss of them to disclose this information which was given in strict confidence, but such disclosure could also impair South Africa’s ability to continue to play a facilitating role in assisting Zimbabweans to resolve their political differences.” Radio VOP/Sapa