By Elita Chikwati
The Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 post-election violence yesterday conducted an inspection in loco at the former Ximex Mall, Zanu-PF Headquarters and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions offices to assess the damage and get to the bottom of what transpired in the Harare central business district leading to the death of six people and destruction of thousands of dollars’ worth of property.
This came as the commission was preparing to hear evidence from members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Zimbabwe Republic Police today.
The testimonies from the security forces will be open to the public, Secretary for the Commission Mrs Virginia Mabiza told our sister publication, The Sunday Mail, on Saturday.
The commission was set up by President Mnangagwa on September 14 to probe the violence which erupted in Harare on August 1, as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was in the process of announcing results of the July 30 harmonised elections. It is chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe. Other foreign commission members are international law expert Mr Rodney Dixon QC from the United Kingdom, former Commonwealth secretary-general Chief Emeka Anyaoku from Nigeria and former Chief of Defence Forces of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces General (Retired) Davis Mwamunyange.
At the Zanu-PF Headquarters, Youth League secretary for administration Cde Tendai Chirau showed the commission where demonstrators were positioned and how they tried to break into the premises.
The commission was also informed that the demonstrators were armed with iron bars and threw stones at the main building.
The commissioners toured the car park where the demonstrators destroyed vehicles.
Cde Chirau explained how the demonstrators used iron bars to destroy the perimeter fence at the party headquarters to gain entry into the premises.
Zanu-PF director for administration Cde Dickson Dzora told the commission that the demonstrators were determined to get into the premises at all costs.
“They were initially peaceful when they arrived, but after a while they became violent,” he said. “Everyone could see that they wanted to burn down this building (Zanu-PF HQ) and everything within its perimeter.
“The presence of police guarding this building failed to deter them. They only dispersed after the military came in at around 2pm.”
At ZCTU offices, the commission was taken to different offices where officials narrated their experiences on the day.
ZCTU security officer Mr Joseph Tshuma showed the commissioners spent cartridges which he said had been found within the building.
“We lodged a police report and expected police to do a follow-up, but they did not come,” he said. “We still have the cartridges.”
Apart from the ZDF and ZRP members, the commission has invited members of the public, civic society organisations and political leaders to attend today’s hearings in Harare.
Tomorrow, the commission expects to hear evidence from the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, while the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Attorney-General’s Office will also be invited.
Since the commission started the public hearings on October 16, at least 13 organisations have made written submissions, while 111 individuals have given testimonies. It has already been to Gweru, Bulawayo and Mutare to hear people’s views on what happened on the fateful day after a peaceful campaign period and election day.
The commission is expected to present its findings at the end of this month.