‘My hands are clean’ in post-election violence, Chamisa tells inquiry

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader told an official inquiry on Monday he had not incited supporters to take to the streets in post-election violence that killed six people in August.

Nelson Chamisa lost the July 30 poll to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in the first election after Robert Mugabe was forced to resign following a coup in November 2017. In the aftermath of the vote, civilians died in an army crackdown on protests.

Chamisa lost a legal challenge to the election results but still maintains the vote was rigged and that Mnangagwa lacks legitimacy.

“For the record, my hands are clean. My conscience is very clear and my resolve is unbreakable. These hands that you see have not spilled blood,” the 40-year-old politician said.

Chamisa said his party had not called for the protests and the demonstrations could have been hijacked by the ruling party to smear his party.

The commission of inquiry, led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, has heard evidence from security chiefs who denied soldiers had killed civilians and blamed Chamisa and other opposition leaders for inciting violence.

Video from the Aug. 1 protests showed soldiers, some with their faces obscured by camouflage masks, opening fire with automatic weapons.

Chamisa said his party would hold peaceful protests on Thursday against a deteriorating economy, which he said was a result of lack of confidence in Mnangagwa’s government.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Nelson Chamisa has denied his party’s involvement in the 1st of August demonstrations that resulted in the deployment of soldiers who allegedly shot and killed six innocent civilians.

Making his submissions before the Commission of Inquiry into the post elections violence today, Chamisa said his party does not organise clandestine protests similar to the one witnessed on the 1st of August.

Chamisa said he only got to know of the chaos in the central business district of Harare from Zanu PF Secretary for Administration, Obert Mpofu whom he said called begging him to restrain his people.

“We did not give any instructions to demonstrate on the 1st of August 2018, we are an organised party

“Decisions to demonstrate are not made Nicodemusly and we even inform the police,” said Chamisa.

He added that the people who protested and vandalised property in Harare should have been arrested as he gave an instruction to Mpofu that whoever starts destroying property should be arrested.

“The protesters who were demonstrating should have been arrested because I told Obert Mpofu that once a person starts destroying property is now a criminal and must be arrested.

“There was need for Mpofu to call me over what was transporting in the CBD,” said Chamisa.

He said the Vanguard group was created to instil discipline in party youths and was disbanded after the death of founding party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Previously, party Deputy National Chairperson, Tendai Biti had taken a dig at President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying he is conflicted as he cannot appoint a commission to investigate himself.

“If you are to follow the dictates of natural justice, the appointing authority cannot appoint to inquire into his own cause. He is conflicted,” said Biti. –