By Bevan Musoko
When President Mnangagwa announced that he would constitute a Commission of Inquiry to probe the August 1, 2018 post-election violence, many people, especially those in opposition parties and hostile civil society organisations (CSOs), dismissed his pledge as political grandstanding.
When the President eventually appointed the various eminent persons to constitute the Commission of Inquiry, the very hostile organisations went into overdrive besmirching the reputations of the commission’s members and the noble intention behind the inquiry.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) took full page adverts claiming that “nothing much will come out of the inquiry given the fact that the incumbent’s loyalists form the greater part of the commission. It seems the commission is aimed at pacifying the international community on the State recklessness that led to innocent souls being lost. It is calculated to absolve the State of wrongdoings through this compromised commission.”
The CiZC went further to accuse the President of creating parallel structures, arguing that he should have let the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to handle the matter. If members of the Motlanthe Commission are compromised as alleged by CiZC by virtue of being appointed by the President, it therefore follows that the ZHRC is also compromised because it was appointed by the same Presidency.
It claimed that “it is justifiable to conclude that the August 1 shootings were premeditated especially taking into consideration that the army stands ready to block opposition rule in the country.” Had the MDC Alliance not commandeered its violent activists into the streets on the fateful day, it is difficult to imagine how the “premeditated” deaths could have happened.
Now that the commission is holding public hearings, evidence coming out is that the MDC Alliance organised the violence that resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians.
Witnesses Roy Jani, who is based at Simon Vengai Muzenda Street near the bus terminus, Peter Makari from Epworth and one Mrs Matsengarwodzi all testified that several MDC Alliance activists looted goods and forced closure of businesses in the central business district while chanting political slogans.
The CBD resembled a war zone such that it would have been criminal for Government to fold its arms while innocent citizens were being brutalised by the opposition activists.
A lot of citizens got injured during the opposition violence.
Given the evidence coming out on the culpability for the violence, it is becoming clear why opposition forces went into overdrive to cast aspersions on the commission.
It is clear the idea was to forestall the embarrassing evidence now coming out by denting the credibility of the commission. When the commission’s credibility is in tatters, there would be fertile ground for dismissing whatever findings the commission would make. This would then be used to exonerate the activists now being exposed as culpable for the fatal violence.
Had the MDC Alliance waited for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce election results in line with the constitutional provisions, they would not have orchestrated the violence under the guise of forcing ZEC to release results, claiming that rigging was underway.
It is incumbent upon all stakeholders to allow the Commission of Inquiry to conduct its investigations and present its report without undue interference. The truth will eventually come out.