Zimbabwe post-election violence commission of inquiry doomed

Supporters of the opposition protest in the streets of Harare as police fire tear gas

HARARE – By rushing to blame the main opposition party over the mayhem that rocked Harare just after harmonised elections, President Emmerson Mnangagwa could have compromised his mooted commission of inquiry to probe the disturbances.

The commission is set to investigate what led the army to kill at least six people during demonstrations by supporters of the MDC Alliance against the perceived bias of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

While Mnangagwa has promised to establish the commission, he — along with the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), General Philip Valerio Sibanda, have blamed the opposition parties for inciting the violence.

“I am, however, deeply concerned with the incidents of violence that rocked the streets of Harare at the instigation of some members of the MDC Alliance leadership, which subsequently resulted in the regrettable loss of lives, injury to persons and damage to property,” Mnangagwa said during the Defence Forces Day commemorations on Monday.

Analysts believe that Mnangagwa’s sentiments as well as those of the ZDF’s top dog have left the mooted commission compromised.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme told the Daily News yesterday that the sentiments were instructive in the sense that they further buttress muted public concerns to the effect that Mnangagwa’s reign was a mere extension of former president Robert Mugabe’s brutal power-retention tactics.

“Mnangagwa learnt nothing and forgot nothing from Mugabe’s 37 years of intolerance, unaccountable and brutal governance,” he said.

Saungweme said the contradictions between Mnangagwa saying he will set up a commission of inquiry to find out what happened and him pronouncing that the MDC Alliance was guilty in the same speech, on the same day, shows that Zimbabwe has a huge leadership problem.

“Such contradictions do not inspire anyone. Such utterances present him as leader whom the killing of six unarmed civilians does not mean much to him. His is just doing tomfoolery with the unfortunate death of six Zimbabwean citizens at the hands of armed men in his command. It’s crass. It’s regrettable,” he said.

Saungweme therefore believes that the commission has been set up for failure.

“The commission is doomed,” he said. “The fate of the commission will be the same with that of many other commissions set up under Mugabe”.

Piers Pigou, a senior consultant at the International Crisis Group, said Mnangagwa was prejudging the case before investigations.

“He is sending mixed messages by prejudging the outcome and is undermining his own credibility.

“The commission is somewhat compromised from the word go. This is not helped by the reported utterances of ZDF commander, general Sibanda who also blames the opposition, but who apparently didn’t know who deployed his own troops.”

Another political analyst Gladys Hlatywayo said Mnangagwa risked not being taken seriously because of his pronouncements.

“Mnangagwa is a big joke. His lack of coherence is legendary. How do you say you want to appoint a commission and yet even before the commission is appointed, you have found the opposition guilty? In any case Emmerson Mnangagwa needs not to appoint a commission but rather to implement the Constitution.

“In particular, Section 210 directs government to set up a permanent Independent Complaints Mechanism where members of the public can report abuses from security forces. Zimbabwe’s history is littered with useless Commissions whose reports were never seen. The Commission is certainly doomed,” she said.

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Source: DailyNews

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