Zimbabwe: Post-Poll Violence Probe Team Gets Thumbs Up

Photo: The Herald
The seven-member Commission of Inquiry.
31 August 2018

THE seven-member Commission of Inquiry into the violence that occurred in Harare early this month will deliver on its mandate as it consists of people of integrity who cannot be compromised, analysts said yesterday. President Mnangagwa on Wednesday appointed the high-powered Commission of Inquiry to investigate circumstances that led to the death of six people and extensive damage to property following violent protests that rocked Harare on August 1.

The commission is led by former South African President Mr Kgalema Motlanthe.

Other members are United Kingdom international law expert Mr Rodney Dixon QC, former Commonwealth secretary-general Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria, Chief of Defence Forces of the Tanzania People's Defence Forces General (Retired) Davis Mwamunyange.

The team has three locals -- constitutional lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku, University of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor Charity Manyeruke and former Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) president Mrs Vimbai Nyemba.

Political analyst Mr Methuseli Moyo said it was encouraging that President Mnangagwa has stuck to his words that he would set up a commission to investigate the August 1 skirmishes.

He said members of the commission were too reputable to be biased.

"Like he said, he has appointed a team of reputable, high profile persons who I believe have no intention of compromising their standing in society, and will, therefore, do their best to produce a truthful report," said Mr Moyo.

"I think the President is sending a message that the days of accountability and transparency have arrived. Everybody, in politics and in Government institutions must account for their actions and words. That will surely call on leaders and individuals across society to exercise restraint in whatever they say or do."

Another political analyst, Mr Michael Mhlanga of the Leaders for African Network said the appointment of the probe team showed that a new sheriff has taken over Government's business.

"The calibre of persons in that commission suggests the shift from partisan or patrimonial politics to the new era which indeed attests to the new mantra of a diverse Zimbabwe with functional institutions," said Mr Mhlanga.

He said the diversity in the team and the profiles of appointed individuals showed that President Mnangagwa was serious about transparency and accountability.

"Lastly, this complements the idea of effectively using independent bodies to dig into national issues and transcend partisan interests," he said.

Top Bulawayo lawyer Mr Matshobana Ncube said members of the commission were the best the country could ever get.

He said without pre-empting the findings of the team, there were two problematic items that had to be dealt with, the first being to make demonstrators who destroyed property account for their illegal actions.

Secondly, Mr Ncube said the families of those who were killed will need closure by ensuring that those responsible for the death of their loved ones were brought to book.

Free and Fair Foundation executive director Mr Gabriel Chaibva said: "We note with satisfaction the composition of the commission as inclusive of a wide diversity of peoples with impeachable records of being fair and objective in their outlook.

"The men and women constituted by the President consist of great statesmen and brilliant legal, military and political minds and we have no doubt that the truth will ultimately be known."

Mr Chaibva said the presence of the QC, Rodney Dixon of the UK in the commission would enhance the integrity and openness of its work.

"This is commendable and indeed the President has demonstrated once again his deep commitment and desire to be transparent and open in all endeavours of his government," he said. "Chief Emeka Anyaoku has a distinguished career as an international diplomat and statesman, as head of the Commonwealth, a grouping of more than 54 members from former British colonies, including Mozambique that was admitted not so long ago.

"The chairman is equally a highly regarded statesman who assumed the mantle of leadership at a highly polarized period in the history of post-apartheid South Africa's emerging democracy, as well as having been the Secretary General of Africa's oldest liberation movement, himself a freedom fighter, a fighter for truth, justice and fairness, His Excellency Kgalema Motlanhte."

Mr Chaibva said the inclusion of Prof Madhuku, whom he described as "a highly principled hardliner and law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, a staunch and unyielding critic of Government", had put paid to doubts that the commission was just window dressing to cover the truth.

"The former Defence Forces chief from the United Republic of Tanzania, General Davis Mwamunyange, is himself an unselfish military man who distinguished himself as a great fighter for human rights when his country played host to liberation movements in Southern Africa in their quest for freedom, justice and fairness," he said.

"That will give the commission some military taste. The rest of the commission is well complemented by brilliant academics such as Ms Nyemba and Prof Manyeruke.

"We, as the Foundation, are absolutely confident that the committee will unearth the truth and provide good guidance as to the manner we as Zimbabweans must conduct ourselves in the aftermath of electoral setbacks.

"No sane and well-meaning person can find fault with this commission set up by the President. The positive actions by President Mnangagwa will endear him with many souls in elections to come. The future is in the hands of all Zimbabweans."

President Mnangagwa said all members of the team had already agreed to take up the task and will soon be sworn in to assume their duties.

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