Pressure mounts on Mnangagwa’s commission

HARARE – Pressure is mounting on the commission of inquiry into the August 1 shootings that left at least six people dead to do more to probe the role of the army in the whole incident.

South Africa-based Right2Know has particularly raised concerns over the manner in which the whole inquiry is being handled by the commission, led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Right2Know has noted with concern the initial attempts by government to block non-State media from reporting on the commission, adding it also shares the criticisms identified by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

The Forum opined that the commission needs to do far more to ensure a credible, transparent process, providing open access to media, creating a space for public participation and genuinely examine the conduct of Zimbabwe’s army.

“This is essential if the commission is to achieve the purpose set out by Zimbabwe’s new president in his terms of reference,” said Right2Know.

Established by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the commission began its work over a week ago, with several citizens giving evidence in Harare.

It has since started on a journey to Gweru, Bulawayo and Mutare on its quest to get to the bottom of the issue.

The commission’s spokesperson, Lovemore Madhuku, said the inquiry was targeting people who could have been in Harare when the violence occurred but reside outside the capital city.

Political commentator Ibbo Mandaza said despite the composition of the seven-member probe team being criticised by many, he has faith in some of the members.

Apart from Motlanthe, other members of the commission include Madhuku, academic Charity Manyeruke, Law Society of Zimbabwe’s ex-president Vimbai Nyemba, Rodney Dixon of the United Kingdom, former Tanzanian chief of defence forces General Davis Mwamunyange and former Commonwealth secretary-general Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria.

Mandaza said people were bound to be suspicious hence it is important that the army be called to testify.

“Suspicions have been raised about some of the people who have been appointed in the commission. For me there are two people in that commission who I consider to be men of integrity. Motlanthe is a man of integrity; he is not a push over. Emeka Anyaoku, a former commonwealth secretary-general is also a statesman, another man of integrity. They are both men of good repute who will not miss the reality,” he said.

Another political analyst, Eldred Masunungure said citizens want justice.

“People are interested in knowing what happened; who did what and who gave the command,” he said.

“It may appear as a wild goose chase but the commission is concerned about what led to the violence of August 1 and they would want to prevent such an incident from recurring in the future.”

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has blasted the commission saying his party has nothing to do with it because it is biased and illegitimate.

“The executive can’t appoint people to investigate themselves and you don’t need a commission of inquiry to know who perpetrated the August 1 violence,” Chamisa said.

He said the commission of inquiry is meant to criminalise key opposition figures and sanitise Mnangagwa.