ED opens probe into army killings

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday swore in the team which will investigate the post-elections violence which resulted in the death of at least six people, after the army used live ammunition to break ugly demonstrations that had erupted in Harare on August 1 this year.

This comes as a woman who lost her brother in the mayhem has approached the High Court seeking to nullify Mnangagwa’s Commission of Inquiry, or alternatively, to amend its terms of reference to include specific information on who gave the orders for the killings and the names of the soldiers behind the deaths.

The woman, Alison Charles, also wants the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) or the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to appoint the people to investigate the August 1 deaths — rather than Mnangagwa.

The seven-member commission that was sworn in at State House yesterday will be led by former South African caretaker president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Other members of the team are academics Lovemore Madhuku and Charity Manyeruke, Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) ex-president Vimbai Nyemba, Rodney Dixon of the United Kingdom, former Tanzanian defence forces chief General Davis Mwamunyange  and ex-Commonwealth secretary-general Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria.

Motlanthe told the media soon after he was sworn in that his commission would leave no stone unturned in gathering all the information on the events of August 1 — which came after Zimbabwe had been credited with holding relatively peaceful elections.

“We will be talking to everyone, all Zimbabweans. Actually, we will give a statement on Saturday inviting all Zimbabweans and giving them contact numbers and everything … we want to hear all the versions.

“We have just adjourned and agreed that we will reconvene on Saturday to look at the work plan and schedule and we will take it up from there,” he told the gathered journalists.

Motlanthe also said that at the end of the inquiry his team would make its findings public — dismissing swirling allegations to the effect that the commission was wrongly constituted and that it would be biased towards the government.

“You can’t have public hearings and thereafter have a secret report. It has to be a public report, of course.

“We didn’t select ourselves. The authorities, the powers that be in the person of the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe satisfied himself that these commissioners are fit and proper for the task.

“If the people have that kind of worry, they will tell us and we will consider that as a Commission,” Motlanthe added.

Following the violent demonstrations and subsequent army shootings, Mnangagwa made a firm commitment to establish the Commission of Inquiry, which he said would be a mixture of eminent people drawn from within and outside the country.

“In fulfilment of what I have earlier on undertaken to do, in order to address the matter in a transparent manner and in the public interest, I have appointed a seven-member Commission to inquire into the post-election violence.

“The Commission is made up of local, regional and international members who have been appointed in terms of the Commission of Inquiry Act (Chapter 10:07),” he said last month as he announced its composition.

According to the terms of reference, the Commission is supposed to inquire into the circumstances leading to the August 1 post-election violence, identify the actors and their leaders, as well as their motives and the strategies that they employed, among other issues.

The killings came after Mnangagwa had been credited with presiding over the most peaceful election process in post-independent Zimbabwe — where for the first time, the opposition was able to campaign freely in rural areas which are traditionally strongholds of the ruling Zanu PF.

Following the deaths, the opposition also asserted that suspected security agents had targeted senior MDC Alliance officials and polling agents in a violent programme following the insistence by MDC leader Nelson Chamisa that he had won the July 30 presidential election.

All this was seen by observers as harming Mnangagwa’s quest to mend years of Zimbabwe’s political and economic isolation by Western governments.

Prior to this, analysts had said the 76-year-old Zanu PF leader had done enough to project himself and his administration as being significantly different from former leader Robert Mugabe — who was accused of despotism and running Zimbabwe into the ground.

Meanwhile, Charles approached the High Court this week seeking to nullify the Motlanthe-led commission.

Alternatively, she said one of the two organisations — ZHRC or NPRC — should be given powers to formulate the terms of reference for the Commission, and that some of the prominent people on the probe, specifically Madhuku and Manyeruke, be removed from the Commission altogether.

“I respectfully contend that the decision by the first respondent (Mnangagwa) to appoint a Commission of Inquiry is reviewable on the basis that it is grossly unreasonable on at least two separate and or interlinking bases,” she said in her application.

She also said in terms of the law, the deployment of the army was only authorised by the president, adding that the August 1, 2018 deployment had not been necessary.

“On the 1st of August 2018, my brother … Gavin Dean Charles, also referred to as ‘Gavin’, was shot and killed by members of the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe in Harare.
The cause of death indicated on the death certificate as ‘gunshot injuries, hypovolemic shock’.

“On August 1, 2018, Gavin left home at about 08:00 hours in the morning. I did not know that would be the last time I would ever see him alive again. As siblings we were very close. We literally shared our lives together.

“The deployment of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces under the command of the first respondent and sixth respondent (Commander Defence Forces, Valerio Sibanda) in unclear circumstances has led to the loss of life of Gavin, my beloved brother,” Charles said further in her court papers.

She is also seeking the terms of reference of ED’s inquiry to be changed and to also focus on who deployed the military on the streets then, as well as the names of the soldiers who killed her brother.


Comments (3)

International obsever teams that came to observe our elections have the information that the commission of inquiry is looking for.The commission of inquiry was suppossed to be made of people who came to observe the just ended zimbabwe elections.These people actually saw what happened before and after the shootings.

wise - 20 September 2018

This is just a waste of time and resources. We all know little semi illiterate Bleach McBleachface ordered the killing fearing a revolution. In Zim only the President can deploy the army. So don't tell us he's unaware who ordered the killings.

Moe Syszlack - 20 September 2018

A waste of resources indeed, the only reasonable route was to have Police investigating a murder charge. Mohlante is already lying that the commission will make their findings public....not true they will handover their report to ED who if he wishes depending on whats contained will make it public. This Mohlante lie and the summary of terms of reference for the commission lead to one conclusion - wasted resources - the families of the killed must make their own independent inquiry. "Circumstances leading to the August 1 post election violence, identify the actors and their leaders as well as their motives and the strategies they employed" - is directly aimed at opposition members and the victims.

Sinyo - 21 September 2018

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