In association with The Zimbabwe Institute
Zimbabwe is on the eve of an election year: the nation is constitutionally bound to have general parliamentary elections before June 2005. Any interim agreement resulting from talks between the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) within the next few months would also inevitably lead towards an election, and it is vital for those in the Southern African region and elsewhere to be aware of the need for substantial change – in laws, in the behaviour of government agencies – before any election can take place.
Much has been written on the collapse of democracy and basic human freedoms in Zimbabwe over the past four years. Attacks on the judiciary, on the free press, on civil society and on office bearers of the MDC, have been continuous since February 2000. International organisations including the International Crisis Group (ICG), Amnesty International (AI), New York Lawyers for Human Rights (NYLHR), the International Bar Association (IBA), and others have expressed their dismay and have documented violations repeatedly. Civil society organisations within Zimbabwe have further documented torture, rape, destruction of property and gross violations of fair play around all election activities over this same time period. The almost total control of the media has also been commented on extensively.