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Motlanthe Commission: Shutting doors when horses have bolted

By Vivid Gwede

While out of desperation, insincerity or naivety, many people would have welcomed the Commission of Inquiry (the Motlanthe Commission) into the August 1, 2018 shootings in Harare, many did not give it a chance.

Former South African President and chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 post-election violence Cde Kgalema Motlanthe flanked by Professor Charity Manyeruke (right) and Chief Emeka Anyaoku at a public hearing in Harare 16 October 2018. —(Picture by Innocent Makawa)
Former South African President and chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 post-election violence Cde Kgalema Motlanthe flanked by Professor Charity Manyeruke (right) and Chief Emeka Anyaoku at a public hearing in Harare 16 October 2018. —(Picture by Innocent Makawa)

Many people who would have liked, or been expected to give evidence, did not even bother. More incensed Zimbabweans did not boycott, but called for a total disbandment of the commission, as was witnessed when it visited Bulawayo.

Residents demanded the redress of Gukurahundi, before being asked about events that happened over 500km away, 35 years on.

Most Zimbabweans may be aware that an inquiry into the 1983/7 issue was done — known as the Chihambakwe commission of inquiry — and its results were never made public.

Some people still presented themselves before the Motlanthe Commission, because they did not want to leave anything to speculation about its true nature.

The work of any commission is as good as the evidence presented to it, because as the popular saying goes, “garbage-in garbage-out”.

Unfortunately, a lot of garbage has already gone into the commission’s works. Hopefully, the commissioners see the wild-goose chase they have been employed on, especially the chairperson, who is a whole former president.

If not, then it is the lot of all of us, to pity them. But it is the recent performance of key government officials where motley subterfuges and evasion of facts dominated the circus, which has put the matter to rest, in the manner of killing and sabotaging the Inquiry.

The behaviour of key witnesses to the Motlanthe Commission threatens to make a fool of its commissioners, the international community and all Zimbabweans. The findings will be hard to make or counterfeit findings will be made that will be a scapegoat for failure to deal with the real issues in Zimbabwe.  Of course, the whole charade began with the flooding of visibly bussed and coached elements to the witness stand, to perform a task which, however, even a magician could not accomplish.

Their task was to completely exonerate State institutions and blame everyone else, primarily the opposition.

But, of course, the international community will likely not be fooled, especially if the so-called findings will simply drop the blame at the doorstep of the opposition.

This strategy of selling dummies in the so-called New Dispensation has failed during the 2018 harmonised elections, where the various observers were able to see it, and will fail again with the Motlanthe Commission. While the poisonous role of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has not been prominent in the Motlanthe hearings, the EU Observer mission does have an idea about it, as one of the fundamental causes of the August 1, 2018, tragedy. After pointing out a number of electoral irregularities, the EU in its final report concludes that the electoral commission was not impartial.

It adds on the shootings: “Soldiers fired live rounds into the crowd, leaving at least six people dead and 14 injured. The MDC-A headquarters was also raided, and 27 persons, reportedly engaged on the MDC-Alliance’s vote tabulation, were arrested and computer equipment was seized…”

This is testimony by an international observer mission which points to a crackdown.

It would be shooting itself in the foot (pun foreseen) for the government to come up with a wishful narrative.

As it were, the authorities are closing the stable doors when the horses have bolted.

Zimbabweans must be embarrassed by the account of ourselves we gave before those few foreigners who seat in the Motlanthe Commission’s hearings.

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