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Inquiry rejects Chamisa demands

By Fungi Kwaramba

The Commission of Inquiry probing the politically-motivated violence of August 1 has turned down a request by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to cross-examine witnesses who testified against him.

MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa (centre) and Tendai Biti (Alliance principal) (centre) and Amos Chibaya (Organising Secretary) - right.
MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa (centre) and Tendai Biti (Alliance principal) (centre) and Amos Chibaya (Organising Secretary) – right.

Chamisa wrote to the commission last week asking for an opportunity to question witnesses who blamed him for the violence that resulted in the loss of six lives.

In his letter for commission chair, former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, the MDC leader also demanded access to information implicating him to the violence.

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But in his response, Motlanthe said the issue of quizzing witnesses who appeared before them does not arise since the commission was not a court of law.

“The invitation is simply to hear you in connection with the allegations made against you to the effect that during the period before and after elections you made statements inciting violence.

“The commission is not a court of law and as such the issue of cross-examination does not arise and none of the witnesses has been subjected to cross-examination,” said Motlanthe in his response to Chamisa.

According to the commission, Chamisa is due to appear before the inquiry tomorrow to give his side of the story.

In an interview with the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, the party’s spokesperson Jacob Mafume appeared to confirm his boss’ attendance.

Mafume said: “We had a dialogue with the commission and will continue dialoguing. As of now, the position is that the president is agreeable to testify.”

Chamisa had previously gone on record, refusing to appear before the commission, saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa should not have appointed a commission to inquire into his own conduct as he was responsible for the deployment of the defence forces — according to the Constitution.

He further demanded that Mnangagwa also testifies before the commission.

But on November 14, Motlanthe wrote to Chamisa inviting him to appear before the commission.

It was at that point that the MDC leader made a volte-face in his response dated November 16, 2018, saying notwithstanding his misgivings he “would like to take your invitation seriously and give it the due weight it deserves”.

He said the basis of the invitation appeared to emanate from testimony and allegations made by a witness to the effect that he 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,” he wrote.

“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. This would enable me to form an informed opinion regarding the invitation.

“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?,” said Chamisa. Daily News