Zimbabwe awaits word on election violence

President to decide when Kgalema Motlanthe report will be made public

02 December 2018 - 00:00 By RAY NDLOVU

All eyes are on President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has promised to make public a report on post-election violence.
The report was drawn up by a seven-member commission led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe. Its findings were given to Mnangagwa yesterday after a three-month investigation. The report was submitted two weeks ahead of the commission's December 15 deadline.
Mnangagwa appointed the commission in mid-September and it had 90 days to submit its report on the violence in which soldiers shot dead six civilians in the days after the July 30 poll.
The commission's last hearing was on Tuesday. It heard from former home affairs minister Obert Mpofu and one member of the opposition breakaway MDC-T, Linda Masarira.
About 120 witnesses gave evidence to the commission, which held hearings in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare.
Commission spokesperson John Masuku said it was Mnangagwa's prerogative when to make the report public.
Submissions to the commission have varied between blaming the opposition for inciting violence to blaming the police for firing on protesters.
In his testimony this week, Mpofu claimed there were snipers in Harare city centre when violence broke out on August 1. He accused the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), of incitement. Masarira, the spokesperson of the MDC-T, accused the MDC, led by Nelson Chamisa, of being prone to violence. She referred to attempts in March to burn down a hut at the funeral of former MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Buhera and said the leader of the MDC-T, Thokozani Khupe, had been forced into hiding.
Chamisa and MDC deputy chairman Tendai Biti were the most senior opposition figures to appear before the commission this week. They denied inciting violence.
"These hands are clean and they have never spilt blood. My conscience is clear," Chamisa told commissioners.
The MDC leaders said they had called for dialogue to break the political logjam.
On Thursday, thousands of MDC supporters marched in Harare demanding talks with Mnangagwa amid the worsening economic situation. Long queues have persisted all week at most petrol stations in Harare. The country is suffering its second fuel crisis in just over a month because of another foreign currency shortage.
In an affidavit rejected by the commission because it was submitted after hearings ended, former army colonel Elliot Piki claimed the army was responsible for the August 1 fatalities. He said the army had a history of supporting Zanu-PF during elections.
Piki said he had been unable to testify because he had been abducted last Sunday. He said he was kidnapped at his Harare home by armed men who accused him of ignoring advice not to testify.
In his affidavit, seen by the Sunday Times, Piki said he escaped on Monday after being taken to Mazowe in Mashonaland Central. He approached the commission on Tuesday, seeking its permission to table his testimony, but was turned away.
His 35-page affidavit said: "There is no election that was ever held in Zimbabwe devoid of military control. The military intelligence department continuously controls administrative staff duties. People live in fear of reprisals.
"[Former president Robert Mugabe] exercised power through the state security organs and these are the same people who are applying the same tactics under the guise of a new dispensation. If indeed the second republic has a new leadership, then there should be a difference as they proclaim.
"The state should be held responsible for any fatalities that occurred on 1 August 2018, for it is a constitutional mandate for the state to safeguard its citizens. Blame should never be shifted to any surrogate.
"The military should not shoot to kill except in the most extreme cases. The army and the state should apologise to the nation and compensate the victims." - Additional reporting by John Ncube..

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