Source: ‘Take sober view of Motlanthe report’ | The Herald 21 DEC, 2018
Fidelis Munyoro Senior Reporter
Zimbabweans in their broad totality should consider all the recommendations that have been raised in the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry Report soberly if the country is to move forward, legal experts said yesterday.
President Mnangagwa this week made public the findings of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the August 1 post-election violence which left six people dead and caused destruction of property.
The commission was chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.
It also comprised six other professionals of international repute.
Legal experts who spoke to The Herald yesterday were content that the report puts across some very poignant and well-thought out recommendations to take Zimbabwe forward.
“Perhaps, the Motlanthe Commission has offered us the launchpad that we badly need to start reaching out to one another and understanding and even appreciating that we can defend our political views without necessarily offending other people who might hold other political views,” said renowned Harare lawyer Mr Obert Gutu.
“We have got to start somewhere or else Zimbabwe will remain trapped in a hopeless political cul-de-sac and socio-economic logjam.”
Mr Gutu said the main challenge facing the nation right now is deep-rooted political polarisation, hatred, anger, bitterness, intolerance and malice across the political divide.
He said already some people have started to savage and trash the Motlanthe report using extremely crude and intolerant language.
“How do we hope to solve our political and socio-economic challenges if we are this intolerant and abusive?
“Are we a cursed nation? I have perused all the recommendations that were raised in the COI Report thoroughly and, indeed, I would like to fully associate myself with them.”
The lawyer-cum-politician also stressed the need for law enforcement authorities to undertake investigations and ascertain the exact identities of the officers who fired the live bullets and why they did that.
“The need to compensate the families of the people who sadly lost their lives on August 1 cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
“We need serious national healing in Zimbabwe. We are a nation that is boiling over with hate, hurt, anger, bitterness and intolerance. We have got to start somewhere in order to bring lasting peace to our beloved country. We have got to introspect deeply and ask ourselves some really hard questions. Where there is a will, there is a way.”
Veteran lawyer Mr Sternford Moyo praised President Mnangagwa for his bold decision to appoint the commission and publish its findings.
“Restorative justice demands what was done,” said Mr Moyo. “It was important for us to understand all the issues surrounding the unfortunate violence, loss of life and damage to property, which took place on August 1, 2018,” he said
Mr Moyo said violence of any kind was the very antithesis of national progress and whenever it “takes place, it is important that we learn ways in which we can prevent its repetition”.
“The approach taken by His Excellency was entirely consistent with the demands of restorative justice and the prevention of recriminations and counter- recriminations,” he said.
“It was necessary for us to find a way of closing this sad chapter in the history of our country. We could never adequately close it without full knowledge of what had taken place and the steps we propose to take to mitigate the suffering caused and ensure prevention of a recurrence.”
The veteran lawyer also said apart from the recommendation relating to registration of political parties, the other recommendations by the Commission came across as practical, necessary and in line with the requirements of truth recovery, corrective and restorative justice in a democratic society.
However, the recommendation to register political parties, Mr Moyo said, was problematic and came at a time when Zimbabwe was committing herself as a nation to moving away from registration of journalists and media houses under AIPPA.
“The registration process under AIPPA proved to be an obstacle to freedom of expression and of the media,” he said.
“My fear is that the registration of political parties will become an obstacle to the enjoyment of freedom of association and political participation. Furthermore, in the implementation of some of the recommendations, care must be taken to ensure that measures we take do not restrict or infringe on rights guaranteed by our Constitution. We should resist any attempt to degenerate into State-supported recriminations and counter- recriminations.”
Mr Moyo said Zimbabwe has suffered substantially on account of divisions and polarisation hence it was against this background that he found the recommendation relating to dialogue and co-corporation to be very positive and important.
President Mnangagwa constituted the Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Mr Motlanthe, to investigate the August 1 post-election violence in Harare.
The protests were sparked by opposition MDC-Alliance supporters who were demanding the release of the presidential election results. President Mnangagwa won the election but his main rival, Mr Nelson Chamisa of the MDC-Alliance, did not concede defeat claiming that the election was rigged.
Mr Chamisa contested the results at the Constitutional Court but lost. The Commission made several recommendations including a multi-party initiative facilitated by locals and foreigners to ensure national healing.
President Mnangagwa said Government was studying the recommendations and will decide on the way forward.