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In Zimbabwe commissions of inquiry will always fail

by Staff reporter
02 Sep 2018 at 12:56hrs | Views
President Emmerson Mnangagwa's newly-established commission of inquiry into the politically-motivated violence of August 1 that led to the death of at least six civilians is bound to fail just like several other previous commissions, whose results have not been made public, political analysts have said.

Zimbabwe has a documented and long history of failed commissions of inquiries, including the Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry on the 80s Gukurahundi massacres whose findings were never publicly published.

The Gukurahundi era saw the death of an estimated 20 000 civilians at the hands of the North Korea-trained fifth brigade in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

Since the killings, the nation has been seriously divided on ethnic grounds, with analysts calling for the setting up of a proper peace and reconciliation process to heal the country's wounds.

Meanwhile, in March, some Bulawayo pressure groups approached the court seeking the government to release the findings by the Gukurahundi commission of inquiry findings. In the application, Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo, Dumisani Mpofu of Masakhaneni Trust and Charles Thomas, a victim of Gukurahundi massacres, are the applicants while (former president Robert) Mugabe, Mnangagwa, Kembo Mohadi and British Premier Theresa May, were cited as respondents.

"This is a constitutional application to compel the respondents jointly and severally to release the official findings of the Zimbabwe commission of inquiry into the Matabeleland disturbances, also known as Chief Justice Dumbutshena and Justice (Simplisius) Chihambakwe Commissions respectively, and/or alternatively first and second respondents (Mugabe and Mnangagwa) to set up a public inquiry (Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the Gukurahundi genocide) and ensure post-conflict justice, healing, reconciliation and reparation amongst other measures," the applicants said.

Also in the late 1980s, Zimbabwe was rocked by the Willowvale car scandal in which several ministers were implicated in the corrupt acquisition of cars which they sold at an inflated price.

Mugabe succumbed to pressure to set up another commission of inquiry, which was headed by judge Wilson Sandura and became to be known as the Sandura Commission.

Though several ministers were found guilty, Mugabe went on to grant pardon to those implicated, rendering the whole process a dump squib.

Another commission of inquiry into the education sector led by Cephus Nziramasanga became known as the Nziramasanga Commission. Its recommendations were never
implemented although recently there was an attempt to albeit with resistance from parents.

And this month another commission of inquiry has been appointed and it will be headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe. The commission will investigate the political violence that claimed the lives of at least six civilians.

Besides Motlanthe, other members of the commission include lawyer and National Constitutional Assembly president Lovemore Madhuku, Zanu PF member and 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.

Even though Mnangagwa has set up this commission of inquiry, he has publicly claimed that the MDC Alliance is to blame for whatever transpired on the day, deliberately omitting the role played by the army.

According to the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry, it is set to inquire into the circumstances leading to the post-election violence, to identify the actors and their leaders, their motives and strategies employed in the protests.

Human rights activist, Betty Makoni, said the evidence of the shooting is clear, hinting that there might be no need for any commission of inquiry.

"The terms of reference .. into the Harare youth massacre of 1 August are worrisome.

"How can they be so blunt and obviously blame the opposition for protesting. The shooting took place in front of the camera. Either ED or (Constantino) Chiwenga ordered the shooting," she wrote on Twitter.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme told the Daily News on Sunday there is nothing that will come from that commission apart from mere cover up of an act of pre-meditated murder of civilians by armed soldiers.

"The commission of inquiry will do nothing but buy time and cover up the issue."

He said the most rational thing to do given that there is a lot of video and photography evidence is to have the police arrest and place criminal charges against the shooters.

"A court will reveal the motive and who issued the commands to shoot and kill.

"He (Mnangagwa) should also invite the families of the affected and the injured victims and discuss openly with them and agree on compensation for this State-inflicted terror," he said.

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