SA observers 'disillusioned' with Zimbabwe

South African civil society groups came back from Zimbabwe disillusioned about the state of democracy in the country, they said on Tuesday.

After meeting over 20 organisation and attending public meetings and rallies the six member delegation decided that "only the most optimistic opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) politicians" could hope for political change through free and fair elections, a statement from the group said.

At a press briefing in Johannesburg Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) member Nicolas Dieltiens described some of the tactics the ruling Zanu-PF party was using to ensure that it remained in power after March 31.

These included: no voter education by anyone except the government-dominated electoral commission; only a handful of international observers; only announcing the approved Zimbabwean observers two days before the elections; prevention of access to the voters' roll, which is rumoured to be highly inflated.

The group took a "strategic decision" not to meet any Zanu-PF representatives after the way a delegation from the Congress of South African Trade Unions was treated last month when they tried to enter the country, Laurence Ntuli, also from APF, said.

The group was invited by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and involved the APF, the Landless People's Movement and Jubilee South Africa. - Sapa

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