THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) yesterday dismissed allegations raised by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) that the army was responsible for the shooting of civilians on August 1 as false, saying the ZDF position was clearly stated to the Commission of Inquiry and the ZADHR report should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
Responding to an article in the Daily News that claimed the military had taken a body from the morgue in a desperate bid to tamper with evidence, Director Defence Forces Public Relations Colonel Overson Mugwisi said if the ZADHR had any evidence to assist the inquiry, they should present it to the Motlanthe Commission.
“The Zimbabwe Defence Forces position on the 01 August shooting incident was clearly stated through evidence given to the Commission of Inquiry on post-election violence.
“Allegations against the Zimbabwe Defence Forces attributed to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) purporting that ‘the military had, in one of the ugly incidents witnessed, forcefully taken away a body from the morgue, in a desperate bid to tamper with evidence’ are false and should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.
‘‘If the ZADHR has any evidence that can assist the ongoing inquiry on unfortunate deaths from post-election violence, they should present it to the Zimbabwe Republic Police experts or Commission of Inquiry seized with the investigations,’’ Col Mugwisi said.
The ZADHR yesterday panicked after releasing a questionable report trying to pre-empt the findings of the Commission of Inquiry set to investigate the August 1 disturbances that resulted in the death of six people.
In their report, ZADHR concluded that the six were killed by the military without proffering any evidence as to how they arrived at the claims.
They also alleged intimidation of MDC-Alliance supporters by Zanu-PF, which has nothing to do with the medical evidence they purported to present.
This is despite the fact doctors have no expertise in ballistic materials to certify that the bullets used were from the ZDF armoury.
In a statement, ZADHR sought to justify their funding by making claims that they were apolitical.
The statement was directed to The Herald after it made some inquiries on certain issues that cast aspersions on the credibility of their report.
“ZADHR wishes to alert members of the public, the Mothlante-led commission and all Zimbabweans that there are concerted efforts by the State media to dismiss the recently launched report by ZADHR on post-election violence,” reads part of the statement.
“ZADHR is in possession of communication of a State media journalist who has been enquiring all day about the sources of funding for ZADHR and whether or not ZADHR is linked to political parties.
“For the avoidance of doubt and to set the record, the ZADHR board states that ZADHR is non-partisan, as its constitution bars office bearers from holding any political office.
“ZADHR is a membership-based organisation whose core activities are funded by its members. ZADHR also has strategic partnerships with development partners who also fund government health programmes.”
Political analysts yesterday roundly condemned the report by ZADHR, saying it was more of a political statement than a medical compilation.
Harare-based political analyst Mr Tafadzwa Mugwadi said: “The doctors’ report on the August 1 events falls short of being a medical report, but mere political commentary,” he said.
“It shows, though regrettably, the serious levels of polarisation that have infiltrated our medical sector and our hospitals in particular. The doctors have strayed and gate-crushed into a technical area which they have not an iota of knowledge over.
“The question of whose gun released the bullet is not a matter of guessing and speculation, but one under the purview of the arms and ballistic experts following technical processes of testing cartridges. It is, therefore, worrisome that doctors who are supposed to be the leading figures in scientific research become dangerously speculative and experimental.
“One hopes such speculation and hearsay will not become a habit when it comes to examination of patients.”
Mr Mugwadi continued: “By and large, the report is more of bus stop political gossiping than a medical report. If this coterie of mischievous doctors was concerned with the political questions of August 1, then they should have presented their accounts of the events before the Commission of Inquiry than drag a whole respected profession of medicine in a doomed bid to score cheap political outputs much to the disdain and chagrin of an anxious nation.”
Another political commentator Mr Godwine Mureriwa said: “Their sentiments or conclusions are as prejudicial as the notorious presumption by the MDC-A that elections can never be free, fair and credible if they do not win an election.
“It’s a tired and futile regime change agenda they have pursued since September 11, 1997 when the MDC was launched. They seek to revive Western funding under the guise that the army, and by extension the State, violates human rights when it is them who are throwing spanners into the democratisation and reform agenda of the new dispensation.
“Humiliated in electoral processes and the courts, they now resort to medical surgery and politics for survival. At the end of the commission work, once again they will have egg on the face.”
Political analyst Mr Richard Mahomva said: “The report falls short of contributing to constructive dialogue as already initiated through the Government’s open sphere approach to auditing the August 1 altercation.
“The report conclusively projects the Government as the major villain behind the post-election violence. The report is acutely antagonistic and feeds into the opposition anchored narrative of concealing the source of anarchy which undermined the constitutional due process of election management by ZEC.”