Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa proposed in 2001 that the Electoral Supervisory Commission should have the sole responsibility for carrying out voter education in the country.
He also wanted foreign funding for voter education to be banned unless the money went through the ESC.
The move was aimed at stopping foreign non-governmental organisations from conducting voter education.
Local NGOs could only carry out voter education if they were registered with the ESC, but they had to disclose their sources of funding.
Even political parties had to use modules developed by the Commission.
Viewing cable 01HARARE2505, JUSTICE MINISTER ANNOUNCES MOVE TO LIMIT CIVIC
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
240947Z Aug 01
PAGE 01 HARARE 02505 240956Z
INFO LOG-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00 EB-00
EUR-00 UTED-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01
L-00 NSAE-00 OIC-02 OPIC-01 CAEX-01 PRS-00 P-00
SP-00 SS-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00
PRM-01 DRL-02 G-00 SAS-00 SWCI-00 /009W
——————15F607 240956Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9543
INFO NSC WASHDC
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
UNCLAS HARARE 002505
DEPT FOR AF/S (DELISI, KRAFT), AF/PD (SANDERS, ROBERTSON,
COX), AF (BELLAMY)
NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: JUSTICE MINISTER ANNOUNCES MOVE TO LIMIT CIVIC
¶1. STATE-CONTROLLED ZIMBABWE BROADCASTING CORPORATION
TELEVISION AND RADIO, AND THE STATE-CONTROLLED DAILY
“HERALD,” REPORTED ON AUGUST 22 AND 23 THAT MINISTER OF
JUSTICE PATRICK CHINAMASA WILL PROPOSE LIMITS ON CIVIC
EDUCATION ACTIVITIES IN ZIMBABWE.
¶2. UNDER THE HEADLINE “ESC TO APPROVE ALL VOTER
EDUCATION, THE AUGUST 23 “HERALD” REPORTED “.THE MINISTER.
HAS PROPOSED THAT THE ELECTORAL SUPERVISORY COMMISSION
(ESC) SHOULD HAVE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF CARRYING OUT VOTER
EDUCATION AHEAD OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION NEXT YEAR.
CHINAMASA SAID HE WILL PROPOSE TO CABINET A POLICY THAT
WOULD ENSURE THAT THE INFORMATION IS DISSEMINATED IN A
NEUTRAL, ACCURATE AND INFORMED MANNER… SOME OF
RECOMMENDATIONS TO BE PUT BEFORE CABINET INCLUDE THE
BANNING OF FOREIGN FUNDING FOR VOTER EDUCATION, EXCEPT WHEN
CHANNELED THROUGH THE ELECTORAL SUPERVISORY COMMISSION.
THIS WOULD PROHIBIT FOREIGN NGOS FROM CONDUCTING VOTER
EDUCATION AND PERMIT LOCAL NGOS TO CONDUCT THE EDUCATION
ONLY AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN REGISTERED BY THE ESC. HOWEVER,
NGOS WOULD NEED TO COMPLY WITH CONDITIONS SET BY THE ESC TO
DISCLOSE SOURCES OF FUNDING. ALL VOTER EDUCATION MODULES
WOULD ALSO BE APPROVED BY THE ESC. ALL POLITICAL PARTIES
WILL BE ALLOWED TO CONDUCT VOTER EDUCATION BUT USING
MODULES DEVELOPED BY THE COMMISSION.”
¶3. ACCORDING TO THE “HERALD” STORY, CHINAMASA WENT ON TO
SAY THAT THESE CHANGES WERE IN RESPONSE TO THE
PAGE 03 HARARE 02505 240956Z
“.REALIZATION THAT SOME NGOS WERE APPROACHING PEOPLE UNDER
THE GUISE OF PROVIDING NEUTRAL EDUCATION, THEREBY GAINING
THE PEOPLE’S CONFIDENCE AND ABUSING THE TRUST BY
INFLUENCING THE ELECTORATE.”
¶4. CHINAMASA’S COMMENTS WERE MADE DURING PARLIAMENTARY
QUESTION TIME ON AUGUST 22, IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FROM
THE MDC CHIEF WHIP TO CLARIFY THE GOVERNMENT’S POSITION ON
VOTER EDUCATION CONDUCTED BY NGOS.