LEAKED: NAACP Withheld Crucial Report on Zimbabwe Elections

By Jonathan Springston and Matthew Cardinale, Atlanta Progressive News (April 21, 2006)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been sitting on an explosive report showing Zimbabwe’s 2002 elections were free and fair, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

"In sum, we are confident in spite of... long lines... the elections afforded the people of Zimbabwe an opportunity to exercise their constitutional right," the report, which was reviewed by Atlanta Progressive News, stated at the conclusion of its Executive Summary.

"At stake is malnutrition to the point of death," Rev. Mmoja Ajabu told Atlanta Progressive News. Ajabu is a member of a local branch of the NAACP in Athens, Georgia, which has called for the NAACP to release the report publicly.

An NAACP spokesperson told Atlanta Progressive News that the report was never intended for external use. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond did not respond to requests for comment.

However, the NAACP’s assertion does not appear consistent with a press release on their website dated January 21, 2003.

"NGO designation [by the United Nations, which had just been conferred] gives the NAACP its proper standing and status for participating in international relations and with foreign delegations. Whether monitoring elections in Zimbabwe or promoting human rights and trade as we did during a recent trip to Cuba, the NAACP is poised now to become even more effective as an advocate for international justice and third world development," then-CEO Kweisi Mfume, who is now running for US Senate in Maryland, said.

"The US and Britain are saying the elections were not free and fair. Because of this, they’re blocking the counties ability to get international loans from the IMF and the World Bank. We’re talking about saving lives. This is very serious," Ajabu said.

A source who is familiar with the matter showed a copy of the highly sensitive report to APN Editor, who read and took notes, on condition of the source anonymity and the return of the documents to the source.

President Robert Mugabe of the ZANU-PF party defeated Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, by a 56 percent to 42 percent margin. The ZANU-PF party gained two-thirds control of Parliament in 2005.

The MDC spread accusations of fraud but the results were allowed to stand. Mugabe’s party has won every election since 1980.

Since 2002, the Zimbabwe government has implemented a land reclamation plan that moved control of over 28 million acres (11.5 million hectares) of land from between 2,900 to 4,500 European commercial farmers to 350,000 Zimbabwean families.

Earlier that year, President Mugabe signed a constitutional amendment into law that allowed the government to seize White-owned land without compensation, calling instead on Great Britain to compensate the displaced. Only one percent of Zimbabwe’s population is White.

Continuing the feud, Blair threatened to send the equivalent of $200 million to the MDC to help their 2005 parliamentary election campaign.

Jendayi Frazier, the United States Ambassador to South Africa and Condoleeza Rice top aide when she was National Security Advisor, called in August 2004 for a coalition to invade Zimbabwe.

Dr. Simbi Mubako, the Zimbabwe Ambassador to the United States, held a press conference at the National Press Club in April 2005. In his remarks, Mubako pointed to numerous elections reports which were favorable from the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Union of African States, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Rev. Ajabu told APN he spoke to one person removed from President Mugabe who said the Zimbabwean government has not yet received the 2002 report from the NAACP, which could be significant because it is an organization based in the United Statese.

The report shows a few things:

First, the NAACP sent five observers, according to the report. An NAACP spokesperson told APN that only two observers were sent.

Second, the NAACP did an extremely thorough job researching the election, expending considerable time, energy, and resources. The NAACP election research included extensive interviews with citizens, activists, religious leaders, elected officials, and nongovernmental agency officials. NAACP monitors undertook a 2,031 kilometer trip and observed urban and rural polling stations.

Third, the NAACP report says that observers would receive reports of violence at polling stations "from pundits and activists," but when they would go to check out these rumors, the polling stations would be calm and orderly.

Fourth, they stated that Western governments had a clear anti-Mugabe stance throughout the process.

The NAACP congratulated the people of Zimbabwe for patience and courage and their large voter turnout. They recommended modernization of elections, voter education, and earlier training for poll workers, however.

The NAACP "International Election Observers Manual," which was also included in the report, states the role of nonpartisan observers is "to give citizens confidence that the elections process is carried out in a free, fair, and transparent manner."

Atlanta Progressive News believes the NAACP should release this report to the world in order to give citizens such confidence.

Matthew Cardinale is the Editor and a National Correspondent for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com Jonathan Springston is a

Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at jonathan@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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