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Zuma’s Government Draws Fire For Alleged Cover Up


South Africa's new President Jacob Zuma is coming under criticism after his administration refused to release a dubious report that alleged military complicity in Zimbabwe's post-election violence last year.

The alleged involvement, which was supposedly instigated by former President Thabo Mbeki, was conducted by retired army generals as Zimbabwe's violence left scores dead.But President Zuma's office has rejected requests to release the document, saying it does not exist, as the generals who commissioned it never reported to him in writing.

But nongovernmental organizations (NGO'S) in South Africa and neighboring Zimbabwe dismissed the claim, calling it a coverup.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni told VOA that it is unlikely Pretoria would cave under pressure and release the alleged document.

"I do think that it had to be understood in the context of the current impasse within the government of national unity in Zimbabwe where the parties in coalition, ZANU-PF and the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), are having challenges over appointment of the governor of the Reserve Bank," Fikeni said.

He said the nongovernmental organizations have been opposed to Zimbabwe's coalition government brokered by Mr. Mbeki.

"These NGO'S in the very first place were never very happy with the arrangement with the government of national unity," he said.

Fikeni said the NGO'S were of the view that Zimbabwe's long-time ruler President Mugabe should have been left out of the coalition government.

"They wanted to see Mugabe either tried at the International Court of justice or removed from power," Fikeni said.

He said there are indications that the demand for the release of the alleged report is a pretext to compel Pretoria to have a change in policy towards neighboring Zimbabwe.

"They are using the issue of this report as one way of pressurizing the South African government, which is part of a SADC (Southern African Development Community) arrangement to resolve the impasse," he said.

Fikeni said it is unlikely that President Zuma's administration would be forced to release the report.

"I doubt they would curb under pressure… suffice it to say that they will say that the previous government had sanctioned the investigation into what was happening in Zimbabwe," Fikeni said.

He said it is likely the NGO's will seek to use the country's freedom of information act to compel the new administration to release the report.

"The NGO's are aware that there is the access to information law in South Africa, which would try to put pressure on government, but I doubt that the government would release such a report in its entirety," he said.

Fikeni said the aim of the NGO'S to show Pretoria's bias to the world.

"They would try to demonstrate that the South African government under the leadership of the ANC (African National Congress) governing party has actually being favoring the ZANU-PF side and therefore supporting Mugabe," Fikeni said.

He reiterated that the NGO'S would want a policy change towards Zimbabwe.

"They would use that as a way pressurizing the South African government to take a different cause of action to put pressure on ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe, especially under the current impasse," he said.

Former President Mbeki, who was instrumental in the formation of the coalition government in Zimbabwe, allegedly instructed six retired generals to assess the extent of the army's involvement in the political crisis.

Human rights groups, however, maintain that after the investigations, which were carried out in May and June of last year, former President Mbeki and his immediate successor Kgalema Mothlanthe refused to release the report.

Groups backed by South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, have invoked the Promotion of Access to Information Act to force President Zuma to release the alleged document.

Some of the nongovernmental organizations say although violence and fear levels in Zimbabwe had sharply declined after formation of the ZANU-PF - MDC unity government, light should be shed on last year's reign of terror to prompt a transformation of the military and prevent future abuses.

Human rights groups have often accused President Mugabe of unleashing a systematic campaign of violence against opposition supporters after his ZANU-PF lost control of parliament to the MDC in March, 2008 elections.

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