The high-level probe into the August 1, 2018 post-election political violence has in the last fortnight received at least 60 written and oral submission from witnesses and victims.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence of August 1, 2018 — led by former South Africa President Kgalema Motlanthe — last month to investigate the chaos that occurred in Harare after supporters linked to the MDC-Alliance demanded early release of the July 30 poll results.
The mob also wanted an outcome that favoured their leader Mr Nelson Chamisa.
Six people died after soldiers opened live fire on protesters and much property was destroyed in the violence, and the Commission has been taking written and oral submissions ahead of public hearings set to begin next week.
The inquiry will also look into the circumstances that necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting in maintenance of law and order; consider if the degree of force used was proportionate to the threat posed; and ascertain the extent of damage/injury.
The Commission has invited political parties and other organisations — among them the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, human rights and civic groups, media houses and Government ministries — to present submissions before next Friday’s deadline.
Shadowy social media group Team Pachedu, which claims to have overwhelming evidence of what took place on August 1, has also been invited to assist with information.
Of the parties invited, only Zanu-PF had tendered its submissions by the time of going to print.
Assisting ex-President Motlanthe on the Commisison are international law expert Mr Rodney Dixon (UK), former Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku (Nigeria), former Tanzania People’s Defence Forces Commander Retired General Davis Mwamunyange, University of Zimbabwe lecturers Professors Lovemore Madhuku and Charity Manyeruke, and former Law Society of Zimbabwe president Mrs Vimbai Nyemba.
The Sunday Mail established that by close of business last Friday, at least 60 submissions had been made while several individuals had been interviewed by the commission’s secretariat.
Public hearings into the matter start on Tuesday next week.
Secretary to the Commission Mrs Virginia Mabhiza told this publication last week that hearings would be public unless there were special requests to protect identities.
She said: “There is overwhelming response from the public; people are very forthcoming with evidence, some are bringing in sworn affidavits while some are coming in person; in summary people are co-operating.
“We have people who are coming in person to share what they witnessed and we are just listing them so that when the commission sits they will hear evidence from some of the witnesses.
“Obviously they can’t hear everyone, they will just hear some of the evidence to avoid duplication. Because most of the people are saying they witnessed something and they believe it should be brought to the attention of the commission.
“Our hearings are going to be public, but of course the Commission is allowed to make its own rules in terms of the law such that sometimes they may allow the media to observe with cameras and sometimes they may not.
“Depending on the need, some witnesses may need to be protected and so forth, but otherwise — for transparency – these are public hearings.”
The Commission has completed background research into the use of force in Zimbabwe and conducted a regional and international comparative analysis.
Other stakeholders invited to make submissions include the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Law Society of Zimbabwe, Central Intelligence Organisation, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Faith Nation for Zimbabwe, and Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Zimbabwe.
The Commission has invited political parties like Zanu-PF, MDC-Alliance, MDC-T, National Patriotic Front and Peoples Rainbow Coalition among many others.
Also called to provide evidence are senior officials from the ministries of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; and Defence and War Veterans; as well as from the Attorney-General’s Office.
Invited media house include Zimpapers, NewsDay, The Independent, SABC, Al Jazeera, Power FM, Star FM and Capitalk.
President Mnangagwa established the panel through a proclamation in the Government Gazette in line with Section 2(1) of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 10:07), which provides that: “The President may, when he considers it advisable, by proclamation, appoint a commission of inquiry consisting of one or more commissioners.”