Zuma turns to Constitutional Court to protect report damning Mugabe’s legitimacy

The presidency is trying to convince the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg that it should not be compelled to release a report on the 2002 presidential elections in Zimbabwe to the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

“The disclosure of the record would reveal information supplied in confidence by or on behalf of another state,” said Marumo Moerane, representing the president.

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He also argued the report was “essentially… obtained or prepared for the purpose of assisting to formulate policy”.

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The presidency was not obliged to release the report because the two judges who compiled it were special envoys whose function was to inform then president Thabo Mbeki about constitutional and legal challenges in Zimbabwe.

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The information contained in their report was confidential, argued Moerane.

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The Mail & Guardian weekly newspaper won attempts in the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal to have the report made public under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia).

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The newspaper requested the report in June 2008, but the president refused to release it on the grounds that it would reveal information supplied by Zimbabwean government officials in confidence.

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However, the Mail & Guardian argued the release of the report was in the public interest because it would throw light on whether President Robert Mugabe legitimately remained in office after the elections.

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Both the High Court in Pretoria and the Supreme Court of Appeal agreed with the newspaper.

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The presidency had now turned to the Constitutional Court in an attempt to keep the report secret.

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The two judges who compiled the document, Sisi Khampepe and Dikgang Moseneke, are both Constitutional Court judges. They recused themselves from Tuesday’s hearing.