By Tendai Mugabe and Nyemudzai Kakore
MDC — Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa yesterday threw his supporters under the bus and branded them “stupid” for undertaking an unnecessary demonstration that resulted in the death of six people and damage to property on August 1.
On the day in question, MDC-Alliance supporters said the demonstrations sought to “defend” their votes and force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release results of the presidential election in their favour.
Days before the election, on election day and soon after voting, Mr Chamisa and other MDC-Alliance officials like Mr Tendai Biti had been using various social media platforms and Press conferences to urge their supporters to reject election results not in their favour and “defend our vote”.
In the last few weeks, Mr Chamisa has been going around the country galvanising his supporters to “defend” their vote, telling them they had many options, including demonstrations.
On August 1, MDC-Alliance supporters were captured on camera destroying property and torching vehicles in Harare.
Some of the supporters donning MDC-Alliance regalia emblazoned with Mr Chamisa’s face threatened to storm the national election command centre at Rainbow Towers in Harare where election results were being announced.
Addressing journalists at Harvest House in Harare yesterday, Mr Chamisa said in his view, the demonstrations were uncalled for and he had no kind words for his supporters.
“It was very stupid even for people who demonstrated to demonstrate for the results to be released,” said Mr Chamisa.
“It was stupid because they then opened themselves for attack and for manipulation. I think whoever demonstrated have their right, but I feel that it was not called for and that is my view.
“I am not insulting them, but I have a right just like any other because it was premature, it was un-strategic, and open to be manipulated by the enemies of the people and the enemies of peace, the merchants of violence, the archbishops of violence.”
This is despite that on July 31, a day after voting, Mr Chamisa had used his twitter handle @nelsonchamisa to tell his supporters that the elections were being rigged and they should defend them.
The tweet read: “Zec seeks to release results to buy time & reverse the people’s presidential election victory. The strategy is meant to prepare Zim mentally to accept fake presidential results. We’ve more votes than ED. We won the popular vote & will defend it!”
On August 1, the day of the violent demonstrations, Mr Chamisa tweeted using the same twitter handle: “THANK YOU ZIMBABWE … I’m humbled by the support you have given to me as a Presidential Candidate. We have won the popular vote. You voted for total Change in this past election! We have won this one together. No amount of results manipulation will alter your WILL #Godisinit.”
These tweets and many others from Mr Chamisa and his fellow MDC Alliance leaders were viewed by political analysts as calling for the party supporters to reject any election result not in their favour through any other means, including violent demonstrations.
At the press briefing yesterday, Mr Chamisa also refused to appear before the Commission of Inquiry which is investigating the post-election violence on August 1 disturbances.
This followed a letter written to him by the chairperson of the commission and former South African President Mr Kgalema Motlanthe inviting him to testify.
Mr Chamisa claimed that if he was to appear before the commission, President Mnangagwa and his two deputies Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Cde Kembo Mohadi should also appear before the same commission.
He attacked the commission saying it had pre-conceived conclusions.
“We will only be able to appear subject to certain things,” he said. “In fact, this is our own benevolence. We have said we have no time for these kind of shenanigans. Because we know that this is a choreographed, they are working from a conclusion.”
In his letter to Mr Chamisa, Mr Motlanthe said: “In the course of the proceedings of the commission of inquiry into the 1st of August 2018 post-election violence and hearing of testimony from witnesses, your name was mentioned as among those who played a part in inciting the violence of 1st August,2018.
“The commission considers it fair and just that it should have the benefit of your comments and, accordingly, is inviting you to come at your convenience on 21 November, 2018 to share your views before concluding its proceedings.”
“I actually didn’t know about the August 1 events,” he said. “I only heard about it from some other person who actually called me and l will mention him at the appropriate time. That was the first time l knew about it.”
Meanwhile, police said they had opened a murder case docket with regards to the August 1 killings.
Appearing before the Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday, acting officer commanding CID Detective Inspector Edmore Runganga said: “We now have final post-mortem results of the six and these show that victims died as a result of projectiles by fires. We are now investigating cases as murder.
“For now, we have suspects in connection with the violence, but we will charge people in connection with the death of the six as we identify each individual’s case.
“It is part of the investigations on who shot them, but there are no dates or time frames on investigations on the murder cases. We will try to speed up the investigations.”