Zimbabwe: Government violating SADC guidelines on elections

source: SW Radio Africa

By Lance Guma
11 March 2008

With elections just 17 days away, the focus is very much on whether the country can have a free and fair election. A cosmetic relaxation of media and security laws, courtesy of constitutional amendment 18, had given some hope that the opposition would have greater access to campaigning. But an increasingly repressive Zanu PF regime has brought such high hopes crashing to the ground. Pro-democracy groups are now reminding government of the SADC guidelines governing elections, which were put in place in 2004. They say government is paying lip service to this set of rules, which include equal access to the media for all parties, freedom to hold political rallies, adequate voter education and an independent body to monitor elections.

Zimbabwe Democracy Now (ZDN), a pressure group based in South Africa that campaigns for the restoration of democracy in Zimbabwe, has placed a series of full page adverts in South African newspapers pointing out that Mugabe’s government has reneged on agreements brokered by SADC, and signed by both Zanu PF and the MDC. In their ads the group says lawmakers from both parties passed new media and security laws that were meant to relax requirements for independent broadcasters and newspapers to operate. The same laws also compel the state owned media to give equal coverage to [continue reading]



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