A commission of inquiry investigating an army massacre in Harare on August 1 has invited written submissions from the public as it begins its work.
Soldiers were deployed onto the streets to break up opposition protests against delays in announcing presidential election results. At least seven people were killed and dozens more wounded.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has publicly stated he had not authorised the army deployment as required under the constitution. Media reports also suggested Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda had no prior knowledge of the deployment.
Mnangagwa, under pressure from the opposition and Western countries, established a seven-member commission led by former South Africa President, Kgalema Motlanthe, to investigate the events of August 1.
The commission was given three months to conclude its findings and is now turning to the public for assistance.
Virginia Mabhiza, the secretary to the commission, said in a press statement on Wednesday that those who come forward would be protected.
“In order to assist the commission to make fair and appropriate findings, we hereby call upon members of the public with relevant information which may be of assistance to the Commission of Inquiry to submit written submissions with contact details to the Secretariat at Office No. 136 Cresta Lodge, Samora Machel Avenue, Harare. Call on the following 0242 777052 or email: PostElectionInquiry2018@gmail.com,” the statement said.
“Submissions to the commission would be protected by law and will be received on a ‘without prejudice’ basis. Necessary measures have been put in place to guarantee the safety and protection of potential witnesses. After receiving the written submissions, the commission shall conduct public hearings. The deadline for submission is October 12.”
Under Statutory Instrument 181 of 2018 (proclamation 6 of 2018), Mnangagwa listed nine terms of reference for the commission, namely:
“To inquire into the circumstances leading to the August 1 post-election violence; to identify the actors and their leaders, their motive and strategies employed in the protests; to inquire into the intervention by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the maintenance of law and order; to investigate the circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting in the maintenance of law and order; to consider whether the degree of force used was appropriate to the ensuing threat to public safety, law and order; to ascertain extent of damage/injury cause thereof; to investigate any other matters which the commission of inquiry may deem appropriate and relevant to the inquiry; to make suitable recommendations and to report to the President in writing the result of the inquiry within a period of three months from the date of swearing-in of the commissioners.”
Other members of the commission of Inquiry are United Kingdom international law expert, Rodney Dixon QC, former Commonwealth Secretary General Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria, Chief of Defence Forces of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces General (Retired) Davis Mwamunyange.
The team has three locals, constitutional lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku, University of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor Charity Manyeruke and former Law Society of Zimbabwe president Vimbai Nyemba.