THE commission of inquiry probing the post election violence on August 1 in which the army killed six civilians is reportedly headed for a clash with opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa after refusing to give in to his demands ahead of his appearance today.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
The Motlanthe Commission spokesperson John Masuku said they expected Chamisa to appear before it today, where it would discuss the requests carried in the letter delivered to him on Monday.
“The commission is expecting Mr Chamisa to appear before it tomorrow (today) therein they will discuss with him the contents of his letter and see what to do, there is no response yet to the letter which he sent and was received by the chairperson, but he is expected to attend,” Masuku told NewsDay.
This could create a potential stand-off between Chamisa and Motlanthe, after the opposition leader indicated that he would not attend if his demands were not met.
Top on his demands was the request to have the right to cross-examine Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) boss General Philip Valerio Sibanda; Presidential Guard commander Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe; Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, who all accused him of fanning the post-election violence.
“Further, and in the interest of due process and my natural and constitutional rights, would I stand assured that an opportunity to cross-examine the witness who ‘mentioned [my name] as among those who played a part in inciting the violence of 1 August 2018’ will be availed, since the sole basis of my invitation is his, her or their testimony,” Chamisa wrote to the commission.
Members of the uniformed forces also accused the MDC of training a military wing which they said was possibly armed during the demonstrations which left a trail of destruction, six people dead and scores of others nursing gunshot injuries.
Chamisa said since the commission was inviting him to answer to the allegations, he would be happy to be favoured with the nature of the allegations, who made them and that he be allowed to question those out to ‘soil’ his image.
“I note, in particular, that the basis of the invitation appears to emanate from testimony and allegations made by a witness to the effect that I incited violence. I consider the allegation to be malicious. Since my response to this contrived allegation is required, I consider it “fair and just” that I should be afforded all the relevant information relating to the allegations so as to enable me to prepare adequately. I kindly, therefore, ask the commission to favour me with the full transcript of the relevant part of the testimony; to better understand the nature, circumstances, scope and credibility of the allegations made against me,” he wrote.
Six people were killed in the post-election army crackdown on protests in a manner reminiscent of former President Robert Mugabe’s nearly four decades stay in power.
Police arrested 27 MDC supporters following the demonstration who were charged with fomenting the violence but were released on $50 bail each.
The August 1 crackdown was seen as a failure by the new administration to show that it had turned a new leaf from the repressive Mugabe regime.
Chamisa also asked Motlanthe if he had invited other players accused of inciting pre-election violence, including Vice-President Constatino Chiwenga, former Minister of State in Masvingo Josiah Hungwe and former deputy minister of Finance Terrence Mukupe, who had made statements to the effect that Mnangagwa would use the gun to defend his stay in power.
He also demanded that President Emmerson Mnangagwa should appear before the commission to answer allegations on who deployed the military into the streets.
“To start with, the commission’s appointing authority, Mr Mnangagwa, was, during the material time, the sole authority charged with the responsibility of the security of all citizens in terms of the Constitution. He, therefore, is the key witness in this matter,” Chamisa wrote.
But Masuku said Mnangagwa and his deputy have not yet been invited to appear before the commission, but evidence will be heard starting from tomorrow from ballistics experts, lawyers for human rights, Tendai Biti and Shadreck Mashayamombe among others.
“The President and his deputy have not been invited, not at this point,” Masuku said.