HARARE – When President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed the Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 killings, there was substantial criticism on the manner in which its members were picked as well as its composition.
The seven-member Commission — headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe and comprising academics Lovemore Madhuku and Charity Manyeruke, international lawyer Rodney Dixon, former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Chief of Defence Forces of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces Davis Mwamunyange as well as former president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Vimbai Nyemba — has already heard testimonies from police and army commanders.
The appearance of former Zanu PF terror leader Jim Kunaka, former Harare South legislator and key Generation 40 (G40) member Shadreck Mashayamombe and MDC Alliance member Paddington Japajapa will perhaps unsettle the Commission with their damning revelations on the ruling party’s modus operandi in crisis situations.
Many observers will argue that the trio did not dwell on the August 1 killings in their testimonies but the damning details they gave of the ruling party’s tactics, especially violence and intimidation will most likely continue to haunt the commissioners for some time.
On the other hand, some members of the Commission, notably Charity Manyeruke, have already had their credibility questioned through the submissions from Kunaka. And to imagine that the whole programme was televised live will no doubt show the importance of the whole process for Zimbabwe.
The world’s perception of Zimbabwe is not that positive following decades of Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship which soiled the country’s image at such a critical juncture.
In this light, the Commission should strive to retain its autonomy, something that will play a significant part in determining the credibility of its findings as well as recommendations.
Zimbabwean society is highly-polarised with the majority of citizens viewing national issues through the eyes of either Zanu PF or the MDC.
The Commission should be wary of this fact as this can lead to rehearsed testimonies seeking to sanitise given party positions.
So far, reservations over the composition of the Motlanthe-led Commission have played heavily against it, with certain quarters dismissing it altogether as an extension of Zanu PF. It is not too late for the Commission though.
They are still capable of producing a sober report that will not deepen the polarisation that currently obtains in the country, thus paving the way for active involvement in the development agenda.