Jeffrey Muvundusi 27 October 2018
BULAWAYO – A hearing into the post-election violence that led to the death
of at least six civilians in Harare early August ended prematurely
yesterday after violence involving some members of the audience broke out.
Riot police, supported by two water cannons, had to be called in to quell
the disturbances, resulting in the seven-member commission of inquiry, led
by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, adjourning the
hearing at a local hotel.
Three activists linked to Mthwakazi Republic Party were arrested.
While the Harare hearings were largely peaceful, it was not the same with
the maiden proceedings in the second city where the unresolved issue of
Gukurahundi massacres took the centre stage yesterday.
Tempers started running high among the participants when one witness, who
identified himself as Taurai Kundishaya seemed to implicate the MDC led by
Nelson Chamisa in the August 1 killings, resulting in the audience
accusing the Harare-based taxi driver of being a State security agent
coached to give false information by laying the blame on the country’s
“I was at the Rainbow Towers on the day and I heard people singing saying
Chamisa was their president and had won the elections. I saw about 50
people approaching the command centre carrying stones. I knew something
could happen because if MDC youth had stones, the situation tends to go
bad,” Kundishaya told the gathering.
This did not go down well with the audience.
Kundishaya was booed off the stage by the miffed audience before they
threatened him with assault.
This resulted in a half-an-hour stoppage of the proceedings to allow the
skirmishes that had broken out to subside.
When the proceedings resumed, there was no let up to the pent-up anger and
tensions among the audience.
Former legislator and MDC Alliance Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Felix
Mafa Sibanda, who was one of the witnesses, implored the commission to
identify the person who deployed the army to quell the mass protests.
“The commission should be able to identify the person who deployed the
army,” he said.
Some activists in attendance questioned why the commission was
investigating Harare killings in Bulawayo, describing the move as nothing
but a waste of time and resources.
Some claimed that the evidence was there for everyone to see where
soldiers were caught on camera spraying bullets on civilians.
Motlanthe defended their visit, saying in its wisdom, the commission
decided to come to Bulawayo because there was a possibility that some
people in Matabeleland could have been in Harare or had relatives who were
injured or killed on the day and would therefore want to hear the
circumstances of what happened.
“…or you have suggestions and recommendations as to how law enforcement
agents must handle such situations,” Motlanthe told the gathering.
The commission is expected to present its final report to President
Emmerson Mnangagwa after three months.
Some of the members of the audience called on the commission to
investigate the Gukurahundi atrocities.
“Why are you interested in finding out who killed six people yet you have
never bothered to investigate the death of over 20 000 in Matabeleland?”
shouted one member of the audience.
“We lost our parents during Gukurahundi and nothing was done, now you want
us to testify because of six people who died in Harare,” members continued
During the hearing, one of the witnesses claimed that Mnangagwa who
appointed the commission to investigate the disturbances that led to the
killing of six Zimbabweans by the Zimbabwe National Army was one of those
who killed his father during the Gukurahundi era where an estimated 20 000
innocent civilians from the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces were
reportedly butchered by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade.
This did not go down well with one member of the audience, who immediately
interjected, “Where you there when your father was killed?”
Some members of the audience quickly moved to confront the heckler,
resulting in an open fight.
Alert law enforcers moved in swiftly before members of the commission were
whisked out of the venue through the back door.