Commission of inquiry to visit Byo, Gweru

HARARE - The Commission of Inquiry on the August 1 violence that ensued after this year’s harmonised elections adjourned its hearings in the capital last Friday and is expected to continue its mission in Bulawayo and Gweru this week.

During next month’s session of hearings, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) are expected to give testimonies.

Former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, the chairperson of the seven-member probe team last week said the commission will also visit Mutare before continuing with hearings in Harare on November 10.

“We wish to announce that the commission will today (yesterday), the 19th of October 2018, adjourn its hearings in Harare, thereafter we will conduct hearings on the 26th and 27th of October, 2018 in Bulawayo and Gweru respectively,” he said.

“The commission plans to visit Mutare and to continue with the public hearings in Harare from the 10th of November, 2018. We will be hearing, especially from the army and the police then.”

Motlanthe said they had so far received 85 written testimonies, heard 37 oral testimonies from witnesses of diverse backgrounds, written testimonies from 11 organisations and had also carried out site visits.

The commission is scheduled to conclude the investigation within 90 days, after which it shall present a report to President Mnangagwa who has promised to publish the findings.

During last week’s hearings, testifying witnesses said the violence of August 1 felt like betrayal by the army, after a celebration on November 18 last year following the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe.

In her testimony on Thursday, Elizabeth Rubinstein — sister to the now deceased Gavin Dean Charles who was shot in the violence — said no one anticipated such brutality from the army after the November 18, 2017 “selfies”.

She said Charles who had failed to secure employment during the Mugabe regime was hopeful that the new dispensation would bring light.

“He danced on the streets in celebration last November, he didn’t know that the same people he was dancing with would take him down a few months down the line,” she said emotionally.

“He was hopeful and jovial that everyone would finally join together; it was a great day for him, he hoped for change. He had not been happy with the way he was living; he failed to get a job even though he had qualifications.”

Human Rights activist Vivid Gwede submitted before the Commission last week that it was surprising that while the commander-in-chief of the defence forces, President Emmerson Mnangagwa was strongly against the death penalty; the right to pass the death sentence was given to the soldiers on the day of the protests.

“Citizens have a right to demonstrate according to the Constitution, even for election results. Most people have no confidence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec); also most ordinary people have no clue about the law which says results are expected to be released within five days. Police have enough to stop demonstrations, they have always succeeded,” he said.

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