Shootings inquiry to subpoena Chamisa, Biti

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and one of his top lieutenants, Tendai Biti, and other opposition leaders implicated in post-election violence will next week be subpoenaed to give evidence before the commission of inquiry into the August 1 shootings, which left six dead and 24 others nursing gunshot injuries.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

Ballistic and forensic experts have also been summoned to appear before the Kgalema Motlanthe-led commission, but it was not yet clear if Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga would be asked to testify in view of the recent High Court ruling implicating him in the deployment of soldiers who turned on unarmed civilians on the fateful day.

Secretary to the commission, Virginia Mabiza, said as the inquiry enters its penultimate stages that include public hearings, it would subpoena all people fingered by witnesses as having incited violence, both in pre- and post-election times.
“The commission will be subpoenaing all those who were implicated in inciting violence, pre- and post-election. The law empowers the commission to use legal instruments to bring these people before it so that they can answer to the allegations made against them,” she said.

Chamisa, MDC deputy chairperson Biti and Jim Kunaka, Zanu PF’s Terrence Mukupe, Chiwenga and former Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Josaya Hungwe have all been accused of inciting violence ahead of the polls.

Chamisa, who faces arrest after Zanu PF, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, the army and the police fingered him and his executive as the main instigators of the violence which unfolded on August 1, will be the main target, according to insiders.

The MDC has taken a decision not to be part to the proceedings of the commission, dismissing it as a farce, set up with predetermined outcomes.

After the army distanced itself from the shootings, the commission, which said it was armed with evidence that soldiers using AK-47 rifles fired live rounds of ammunition into fleeing unarmed civilians, would invite ballistic experts to give evidence.

Head of presidential guard,Brigadier-General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, said the soldiers under his command only fired warning shots and never shot at anyone, leaving the commission grappling for answers on who fired at civilians.
A commissioner, who refused to be named, said the ballistic experts would give evidence on the damage an AK-47 could cause and would also review video footage of military activity on the day.

“The issues that were raised by army commanders, especially that they did not shoot anyone and that the soldier captured on video kneeling while shooting, was firing in the air at 45 degrees, the commission would want to get an expert opinion on the matter so that it arrives at a conclusion as to who shot and killed the six now-deceased,” the commissioner said.

The ballistic expert, according to Mabiza, would be provided by the police, who have openly told the commission that they were still clueless regarding who shot the victims.

“The ballistic expert will give evidence on November 21 before the commission, I don’t have a name now, but the expert will obviously be connected to the police,” the commissioner added.

Journalists who shot the video footage, including South African Thulasizwe Simelane of eNCA, John Ray of ITV News, and the SABC news crew, could also be asked to appear before the commission to give evidence.

Some foreign journalists were reportedly assaulted by soldiers deployed on the streets on August 1 and told of the horror they suffered at the hands of the military. But Sanyatwe insisted that the journalists were only able to do the video footage because they were guaranteed safety.

Mabiza confirmed that the commission had reached out to established media outlets to favour the commission with credible video footage and depending on how it is availed, the journalists who were part of gathering the news could be asked to give evidence.

During the public hearings, commissioner Lovemore Madhuku, who has taken lead in fielding most of the tough questions, said the commission had evidence that the army fired at people. – News Day