The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has criticised President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s commission of inquiry into the politically-motivated violence of August 1 that led to the deaths of at least six civilians.
On Wednesday, Mnangagwa set up a commission of inquiry into the mayhem, but concerns have been raised over the terms of reference guiding its operations and the ability of the appointees to produce an impartial report.
Through his communication department, the Chamisa-led MDC said the seven-member commission, headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, was meant to sanitise the Zanu PF leader and criminalise key opposition figures.
“As it stands, the commission requires changes both in its membership and its terms of reference. Its composition is clearly unbalanced and biased. The terms of reference are designed as a witch-hunt against perceived political threats and any credible opposition to ED’s illegitimacy,” the party said.
“Everything points to a clear effort to pin blame on key figures in the opposition as a way to weaken opposition thereby threatening democracy in Zimbabwe.”
According to the terms of reference, the commission will inquire into the circumstances leading to violence, identify the actors and their leaders, as well as their motives and strategies employed in the protests.
It will also inquire into the intervention by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the maintenance of law and order and investigate the circumstances, which necessitated the involvement of the military.
The commission is further supposed to investigate the circumstances that necessitated the involvement of the military as well as to consider whether the degree of force that was used was appropriate to the ensuing threat to public safety, law and order.
MDC is, however, questioning the basis upon which the foreign members of the commission were selected and whether they have the relevant expertise and experience.
Motlanthe is heading the commission, whose other members include lawyer and National Constitutional Assembly president Lovemore Madhuku, Zanu PF loyalist 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.
According to the MDC, those involved in the investigations have links with the ruling party.
“Whilst the appointment of this commission is welcome in principle, this commission does not meet basics of any of its kind. It is set up by and meant to benefit a political party and will report back to the person it has to investigate,” the MDC said.
It further alleged that Manyeruke was a well-known Zanu PF cheerleader, while Madhuku is viewed as an interested party, considering that he was a presidential candidate in the just-ended elections.
The party also doubted Nyemba’s impartiality.
“That these three will ensure that the inquiry produces a predetermined script to smoke out targeted individuals is beyond doubt. The value of such an inquiry is doubtful given that we have had commission findings going back to the first years of independence that have never seen the light of day for 38 years. This is just a publicity stance and a public relations gimmick to bolster ED’s image, they know who ordered the army but choose a long-winded route to dupe the world,” the Chamisa-led party said.