The SADC Summit and the Generals’ Report on Zimbabwe

August 28, 2009

The 29th Ordinary SADC Summit is to take place next week in Kinshasha, DRC. Zimbabwe is again likely to be on the agenda. With reports of an upsurge in political violence in Zimbabwe, SADC leaders, taking their obligation to promote peace and security in the region seriously, should be looking to devise a system by which such acts can be systematically addressed, condemned and countered.

Of course, doing so would require them to look comprehensively at the pattern of violence which has played out over recent years, specifically in the aftermath of the March elections of 2008, and key to such an assessment would be consideration of the Generals Report on post-election violence commissioned by then president Mbeki in his role as SADC-appointed facilitator of political dialogue in Zimbabwe.

But South Africa’s Presidency denies the existence of a written report, any written terms of reference for the generals or that any documentation was provided to them. This was the response generated when the South African History Archive, on behalf of the South African Centre for the Survivors of Torture, requested these documents in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

That response is hard to credit, not only in light of the South African executive’s obligations in respect of accountability for expenditure of state resources and public transparency. But given that the report was commissioned under SADC auspices, the non-disclosure or non-existence of the report appears to undermine the obligations owed by Mbeki and the South African government to afford SADC member states the opportunity to properly consider information essential to decisions they must make on Zimbabwe.

For more on the issue, see the following briefing document.

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