The opposition MDC Alliance says the on-going public hearings by a commission probing post-election violence that left seven people dead on August 1 is “a choreographed charade” meant to sanitise the actions of the army and to protect President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
The army opened fire on civilians as part of a military crackdown that followed the disputed July 30 presidential election won by Mnangagwa recalling the dark days under former President Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in November last year.
The seven-member commission is led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, and is currently holding public hearings into the shooting at a local hotel, but the witness stand has been stacked with mainly Zanu PF supporters and officials while the composition of the commission itself has been questioned.
“You can see with what is happening that (the commission) is not aimed at producing justice, but a predetermined conclusion. That is why Zanu PF supporters are making a beeline to go and try to cover up by blaming the MDC Alliance, which does not control the military,” MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda told NewsDay.
“But then, an illegitimate president cannot undertake a legitimate exercise.”
MDC Alliance spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the party would not “sanitise the farce”, which “is nothing more than a cover up”.
“The whole exercise is a choreographed event meant to provide a platform for Zanu PF supporters to shield the entire leadership of the illegitimate regime from liability,” he said in a statement.
“It is clear the sham commission of inquiry has narrowed down to investigate civilian activity when the actual issue is supposed to be on how soldiers ended up in the streets, firing live ammunition at unarmed civilians.
“We restate the point that there was no need to set an inquiry into the conduct of the military if the State had complied with section 210 of the Constitution, which provides for the establishment of an independent complaints mechanism against members of the security forces.”
Mafume said the MDC Alliance had reservations against the commission, which has failed to summon the soldiers who killed the innocent civilians.
But one of the commissioners, Lovemore Madhuku, yesterday said the commission would summon the army to give evidence.
Mafume described the commission, appointed on August 29, as unlawful because it was done without the consultation of the Cabinet, which was not in place at the time, contrary to section 110(5) and section 110 of the Constitution.
The MDC Alliance also has expressed reservations with the appointment of University of Zimbabwe duo of Madhuku and Charity Manyeruke, whom they accuse of being aligned to the ruling party.
The terms of reference of the commission did not provide for the establishment of who called the army into the streets and gave the soldiers the order to shoot.
He said the inquiry should have emphasised on the need to establish who deployed the soldiers and if due process was followed in the deployment.
“In our view, the police who have already said they are investigating the violence and have, in any case, arrested scores of people, were simply supposed to be empowered to investigate even the soldiers,” Mafume said.
“The terms of reference of the commission are wrong, misdirected and a wild goose chase sadly funded by taxpayers’ money. The rightful terms of reference must hold accountable those behind the trigger.”
Following the shootings, police initially said they had requested for help from the army, as it was constrained, with police officers occupied with election business countrywide.
Foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo‚ a retired general‚ however, later told journalists that the shootings were carried out by rogue elements of the military that took to the streets and not members of the army.
The shootings by the soldiers and their beating of unarmed protesters set back Mnangagwa’s efforts to shed Zimbabwe’s pariah status after decades of repression under Mugabe.
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