14 January 2002
On 14 January 2002, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe assured members the 14-member Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) that the 9-10 March election in Zimbabwe would be free and fair. According to a statement issued at the end of the day-long extraordinary SADC summit in Blantyre, Malawi's economic capital, Mugabe promised that international observers will be allowed to monitor the poll.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, faced one of the fiercest challenges to his presidency at the March poll from Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai. When the elections were held political violence broke out largely against the MDC which was the main opposition. The rising tensions in Zimbabwe after the 2002  elections prompted the president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki to send two South African judges, Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Khampempe to Zimbabwe to obtain information on the constitutional and legal problems emerging out of the electoral process in that country.

The 'report' compiled by the two judges sparked a legal battle with the Mail and Guardian, a South African newspaper, which requested its access to the report and the South African government which was  denying the newspaper access. On 23 November 2010, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein reserved judgement on the Mail and Guardian's application and later ruled that the paper should be given access to the report.

Anon (2002) 'African pressure seen too weak to move Mugabe from The Zimbabwe Situation 15 January [online] Available at www.zimbabwesituation.com [Accessed: 12 November 2010]|

Anon (2002) 'US Officials Arrives in Zimbabwe' from The Guardian, 15 January 2002, [online] Available at www.zimbabwesituation.com [Accessed: 12 November 2010]|

m&G M&G wins battle for Zim election report, from the Mail and Guardian December 17, [online] Available at www.mg.co.za [Accessed: 17 December 2010]