HARARE – Former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe has swatted away several demands tabled by MDC leader Nelson Chamisa before his appearance before a commission probing the August 1 street massacre in Harare, in which six people died when soldiers fired on protesters.
Motlanthe, chairing the commission, wrote to Chamisa on November 14, notifying the MDC leader that he had been “mentioned as among those who played a part in inciting the violence of August 1, 2018.”
“The Commission considers it fair and just that it should have the benefit of your comments and, accordingly, is inviting you to come at your convenience on November 21, 2018, to share your views before concluding its proceedings,” Motlanthe said.
Chamisa, in reply, requested a transcript of the “malicious” and “contrived allegations”. He also asked Motlanthe for an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses who named him as an instigator of violence.
“In the interest of due process and my natural and constitutional rights, would I stand assured that an opportunity to cross-examine the witness who ‘mention my name as among those who played a part in inciting the violence of August 1, 2018,’ will be availed, since the sole basis of my invitation is his, her or their testimony?” Chamisa asked Motlanthe.
But in a letter dated November 20, seen by ZimLive, Motlanthe said he was not able to provide Chamisa with a transcript of the proceedings “as this can only be released in accordance with the terms of reference.”
“The invitation is simply to hear you in connection with the allegations made against you to the effect that during the period before and after elections you made statements inciting violence,” Motlanthe wrote.
He also turned down Chamisa’s request to cross-examine his accusers, saying the commission was “not a court of law and as such the issue of cross examination does not arise and none of the witnesses has been subjected to cross examination.”
Chamisa had also asked Motlanthe if it would be possible to make written submissions instead, to which the former President said: “Please be advised that written responses will be accepted although the commission would prefer to hear you in person.”
Chamisa’s lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, MDC secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and human rights lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Doug Coltart were at the commission hearing on Wednesday morning – but it remained unclear if Chamisa would testify in the wake of Motlanthe’s snub.