Yesterday, President Mnangagwa made public a report of the Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 post-election violence, also known as the Motlanthe Commission.
The violence occurred two days after peaceful elections held on July 30, throwing a dark pall on a process that had been hailed for its peacefulness, smoothness and best practice.
Six people died when rioters ran amok in the central business district of Harare, as they burnt and destroyed property, leading to the deployment of the army after police were overwhelmed.
The commission, led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, also comprised British lawyer Rodney Dixon QC, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku from the Federal Republic of Nigeria; former Chief of Defence Forces of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces, General Davis Mwamunyange; University of Zimbabwe academic Professor Charity Manyeruke; constitutional lawyer and academic Professor Lovemore Madhuku and former president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Mrs Vimbai Nyemba.
Immediately after the sad events of August 1, President Mnangagwa promised to appoint an independent commission of inquiry into the violence and the composition of the team showed the world that he followed up on his word to address the matter in a transparent manner and in the best public interest.
The commission, inter alia, was charged with inquiring into the circumstances leading to the violence; to identify the actors and their leaders, their motive and strategies employed in the protests; to inquire into the intervention by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the maintenance of law and order and to investigate the circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting in the maintenance of law and order.
The commission then conducted public hearings that had the world riveted to the accounts of the people who had witnessed or been affected by the skirmishes, including loss of loved ones or property.
Security forces — the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National Army — also testified. The testimonies all pointed to a complex situation that had developed, leading to the unfortunate conflagration.
But what we saw on television and was mediated in the news constituted only but part of the story.
The full report itself would have the whole story. It made sense that the commission’s report be made known to the public to fulfil the purpose for which it was appointed by President Mnangagwa.
Yesterday’s release of the report ushers in a new era of transparency and accountability in President Mnangagwa’s Second Republic.
And as the President read out findings of the commission, it was clear that Government had nothing to hide and that there would be accountability for those that caused the violence or behaved irresponsibility with lethal fire. The report made clear the violence was pre-planned, making the intervention by the military necessary to restore law and order.
The decision by ED to make the report public is the heart of transparency and should help Zimbabweans in the healing process and bring closure to the unfortunate incident of August 1.
The international community was watching proceedings keenly. President Mnangagwa has been bold enough to confront this ugly incident and resisted pressure from those who wanted the report kept a secret.
That would have been convenient in the first republic. But President Mnangagwa is doing things differently. He declared from the beginning that he would make the report public as he had nothing to hide. He has kept his word and shamed those who insist on the line that there has been no change since he took over.
With Zimbabwe’s history of secrecy, minimum accountability and allegations of impunity, President Mnangagwa has just made a huge step in showing that the country is moving in a new trajectory of transparency.
It is a new era indeed.