Arrest soldiers who killed civilians on 1 August 2018: US piles pressure on President Mnangagwa

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THE United States government has expressed concern over Harare’s failure to compensate victims of the August 1, 2018 killings by state security forces in the aftermath of disputed polls.

President Donald Trump government also expressed grave concern over Harare’s failure to bring the perpetrators of the killings to book.

Shortly after Zimbabweans cast their votes in a disputed poll that was narrowly won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the military shot and killed six people on the streets of Harare, leaving dozens injured.

The military was deployed to quell protests which erupted as people demanded the quick release of election results, amid allegations that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was rigging the polls on behalf of Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa, who had risen to power through a military coup which toppled former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, instituted a commission of inquiry led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe to probe circumstances surrounding the shootings.

The Motlanthe commission came up with recommendations including compensating victims of the shootings.

However, Mnangagwa’s government, which has been on an international re-engagement drive, has not yet compensated any of the aggrieved victims, triggering the concern of the international community.

Speaking to the Zimbabwe Independent this week, US embassy spokesperson Stacey Lomba said compensating the August 1 victims, as well as instituting recommendations from the Motlanthe commission would signal Harare’s willingness to embrace bold political reforms, seen as key towards Harare’s re-integration in the community of nations.

“While we recognise the government has created a cabinet taskforce to implement the report’s recommendations, we have seen very little of its work,” Lomba said. “The most significant recommendations outlined in the Motlanthe commission report have not been implemented. The government has not identified or held anyone accountable for the killing of six civilians. The government has moved very slowly on compensation for the victims and their families.”

Justice permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza last month told the Independent the government was assessing 35 cases for compensation.

Washington believes that full implementation of the August 1 killings report would also complement Zimbabwe’s reform agenda.

The US has been monitoring the human rights situation in the country and expressed concern over the fresh crackdown on civil society.

“We have also seen the government target civil society and labour leaders for practicing their fundamental freedoms of speech and peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed to all Zimbabweans by the constitution. This is concerning as it does not demonstrate a true commitment to reform,” Lomba said.

Last month, another top US official also told Mnangagwa that he must hold to account members of the security forces involved in the killing of civilians during public disturbances in August last year and January this year.

After meeting Mnangagwa in Mozambique at the US-Africa Summit, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy said itbwas important for members of the army involved in the shooting and killing of six protesters in the post-election August 1 demonstrations to be brought to book.

Taking to social blogging site Twitter after the meeting, Nagy said it was important to ensure the implicated soldiers face justice.

“I met President Mnangagwa today (Wednesday) I stressed the urgent need to hold security forces for acts of violence against Zimbabweans including August 2018
and January/February 2019 and the importance of real economic and political reforms,” he said.

— Zimbabwe Independent


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