THERE is a Shona adage that goes, ‘‘kuvhunduka chati kwata hunge une katurikwa’’, which loosely translated means he who easily panics has something to hide.
We were reminded of this adage after an organisation calling itself the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights released a lengthy statement warning its members of an alleged attempt to discredit its report instead of responding to our reporter’s questions as we report elsewhere in this issue.
The ZADHR accused us of trying to discredit their report after our reporter asked them of the sources of their funding.
The ZADHR, this week, released a politically charged report which they inappropriately titled “Medical Evidence of Post-Election Violence in Zimbabwe’’. We say “inappropriately titled” because the 42 pages did not proffer any medical evidence but read like any layman’s political treatise as it regurgitated the allegations the opposition MDC has raised against Government over the years.
Instead of proffering medical evidence in line with the title of the report, the ZADHR gave their political opinions.
Instead of proffering evidence to guide the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence, the ZADHR offered unfounded conclusions as they sought to blame soldiers for the death of six demonstrators on August 1 yet the jury is still out as to what transpired on that fateful day. Which is why there is a Presidential Commission of Inquiry which is conducting hearings to get to the bottom of the matter.
The commission, headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, is composed of eminent personalities, experts in various fields among them Mr Rodney Dixon, a lawyer from the United Kingdom; former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria; and General Davis Mwamunyange, former Chief of Defence Forces of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces. Local commissioners are University of Zimbabwe lecturers Professor Charity Manyeruke, Professor Lovemore Madhuku and former president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Mrs Vimbai Nyemba.
But for the ZADHR, the commission was not necessary, ditto the thinking of the MDC-Alliance from whose script they compiled the report as they delved into areas outside their province of competence.
Medical doctors can only certify whether someone is well, unwell dead or alive and can also ascertain the cause of death which in the case of the unfortunate six of August 1 were gunshot wounds.
That is where the ZADHR should have stopped.
There is no dispute that the six bodies had bullet wounds, what is in dispute is who did the shooting.
This is what the commission of inquiry is trying to unravel.
Medical doctors do not have expertise in forensics, scientific techniques for the detection of crime or ballistics, the science of projectiles and firearms.
As such, the ZADHR cannot determine what type of projectiles caused the death and from what type of weapons they were fired.
Their 42-page report does not proffer any evidence as to how they arrived at the conclusion that the army was responsible for the shootings. Hardly surprising because that is the province of forensics and ballistics experts.
The fact that ZADHR sought to overstep their boundaries points to a sinister agenda of trying to abet the cause of the opposition MDC Alliance which stands accused of sending protesters in the streets, and which is rabidly opposed to the inquiry.
Going through the case list the ZADHR presented as evidence of alleged State-sponsored violence and torture one gets a sense of déjà vu for they are the same characters the opposition paraded as its activists at the mercy of political violence even though the record will show that some of the claims were found to be false, a case in point being the alleged displaccements in Muzarabani.
To this end, we urge the ZADHR to respect the medical profession and not pass pedestrian reports as medical evidence.
They should not pre-empt the commission. If they have any evidence to present, they should present it to the commission as this will go a long way in helping unravel the events of August 1.
The commission, and any right-thinking Zimbabweans, should dismiss the ZADHR report with the contempt it deserves.
It is a clear pitch for donor funds.