Outrage over military, police testimonies

OPPOSITION parties, civil society and ordinary people reacted with outrage to the testimonies of military and police bosses who tried to exonerate themselves from the post-election violence in which six civilians were killed by members of the Zimbabwe National Army on August 1.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

Senior police and army officers gave testimonies before the Commission of Inquiry led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, where they gave varying theories contrary to the video footage and other corroborating evidence.

“Securocrats appear unwilling to ensure transparency and accountability. The impunity for serious human rights abuses of the past appears to be continuing under the new dispensation,” Human Rights Watch director for Southern Africa Dewa Mavhinga said.

Combined Harare Residents Association director Mfundo Mlilo said Zimbabwe faces a serious governance crisis, where the military was in control of civilian affairs.

“I think what we saw yesterday confirms the ubiquitous and toxic role of former army General Constantino Chiwenga in Zimbabwe’s politics. It also confirms how divided government is,” Mlilo said.

“What the police say and what the army is saying are conflicting, which brings serious questions as to who exactly is in charge.”

Political analyst Vivid Gwede said the inquiry was being taken by some officials as an opportunity to pass the buck to whoever they do not politically agree with.

“So if innocent people were the casualties in the August events, the truth is the casualty now and it speaks volumes about the so-called new dispensation,” Gwede said.

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)’s Samuel Wadzai said for the country to move forward, leaders must be able to embrace the truth.

“Some of the victims of the barbaric events of the 1st of August were street vendors and our hearts bleed when we get such insensitive responses from our security structures,” he said.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe boss Obert Masaraure said testimonies by securocrats were clear evidence that they are desperately trying to mask the truth.

“If, indeed, they were not behind the butchering of citizens, the culprits should have been brought to book by now,” he said.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said it was perturbed by the misleading evidence presented by top army and police officers.

“The stance by the army and police confirms why Zimbabwe has a lot of unresolved cases involving the murder of civilians dating back to the Gukurahundi massacres, which resulted in the deaths of more than 20 000 civilians at the hands of the Fifth Brigade,” said the group.

MDC youth assembly secretary general Lovemore Chinoputsa said the party’s Vanguard that the securocrats sought to blame was no longer in existence at the time of the elections.

“As the MDC Youth assembly, we note with serious concern the attempt by the police and the military to arrogate responsibility of the August 1 shootings to a peaceful outfit, which was disbanded soon after the unfortunate incidences in Buhera at the burial of our late iconic leader Dr Morgan Tsvangirai,” Chinoputsa said, adding the Vanguard was not in any case an armed outfit.

Counselling Services Unit director Frances Lovemore said the psychological impact on the relatives and surviving victims and of the thousands of people caught up in the events of August 1 will undermine the confidence of the public of the security sector’s constitutional duty to protect life.

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6 Comments

  1. What is the issue here. Give evidence to authorities if any. Should the army or police say yes we did this or that because someone wishes to hear that, ofcourse not. Facts must lead.

    Having said that some speed should be seen in investigating the issue. At least we must hear some pointer of where investigations are going.

    Further govt must really look at the ability of its officials.
    I was not impressed with some executive of a human rights organisation not even the peace and reconciliation executive. We have better skills than than that.
    The head of the army was impressive never mind whether agree with him or not so was a Mr Chaibva.
    We want people who testify with conviction and intelligence and justice Chikumba is good.

  2. shut up iwe senior murderer

  3. In shona there is a saying which goes “Pashaiyikwa chembere bere rorutsa imvi imi moyenda kunánga kunobvunzira kuti Chembere yaendepi”. (An old woman is missing and you see a hyena vomiting grey hair, You then consult spirit mediums about the where bouts of the old woman). Sometimes people castigate Pastor Chiwenga but sometimes what he says about Zimbabweans is right.Zimbabweans believe the unbelievable. They believe abnormality. Something that you would ask yourself if those people have normal senses. How can someone with normal senses waste our time trying to prove that it is MDC members who shot and killed innocent members of the public. You bring in theories where there is explicit evidence. You try to dispute pictures and videos that are there. You cannot even show us pictures and videos of MDC members holding guns and shooting around but you want the whole world to believe that. If MDC trained mercenaries please show us that on the very day they were carrying guns. Sibanda agreed that Solders were carrying AK47 and the wounds on the victims are consistent with those inflicted by AK47 but someone comes up with stupid theories. I thought stupid theories ended when the whole ministerial delegation that drove all the way to Chinhoyi believing that pure diesel is oozing from a rock was ousted but I am wrong we still have people like Chaibva and others who create false theories. The police commissioner and the minister of police even said the rioterS where throwing stones, and burning. They were threatening to burn ZANU PF head quarters but never mentions any guns within the rioters, now who is fooling who. PLEASE TIPEI MASERIUOS.

  4. we will forever be haunted by the issue of V11’s. Primary evidence is needed. I am impressed by the army guys, very professional sounding and well prepared. I am actually disappointed by the Commissioners, they were totally unprepared for the answers they got from the army and did not at any one time consider the possibility that there could be other third players. They are a bunch of incompetent people. Why should it take Chaibva to point out they should seek video evidence from the international media and the public. I am shocked that they never sought to geo-reference data from witnesses ie where and when exactly were the 23 or 24 people who were treated for gunshot injuries shot? Where were the dead bodies picked up? How do their locations corelate with the 3 operational sector zones where the army was? We need record from army and police on who discharged their guns and where during the operation? How much ammo was discharged by the units? Was it only the police and the army in town? CIO? Its plausible that we cant discount the presence of a third force. I guess the conclusions from this investigation is that you cant pinpoint the culprits but anyone from the CIO, army, police and as yet unidentified armed militia or individuals could be responsible.

    Chamisa should be brought in front of the commission to answer to allegations of incitement. Is there evidence that MDC supporters were bussed into town? Were the demonstrators wearing party regalia? all these questions should help the investigators.

    The commissioners should not take lightly the post operation recommendations by the army guys on the need for better coordination by the army and police when they react to such disturbances. Its clear the police lacked control of the operation and should get a big flak. They should be capacitated with drone cameras to monitor crowd behaviour. They should be using rubber bullets a lot more. But then there were implicit complaints from the generals that the police response was acquiescent and grossly insufficient.

    Ultimately this sad saga is what happens when politicians seek to overtly and covertly gain power through inordinate means. If you create a siege mentality on the government through incitement of the public you are bound to get an inordinate response from the authorities. The army is not meant to police but to impose law and order by all means necessary. I find it difficult to understand for instance, the objectives of the opposition in holding country wide rallies to drum up support for a march to statehouse. Its designed to bring anarchy and surely the authorities will not take it lying down.

  5. Some witnesses will always give ridiculous execuses and blame to any inquiry or court .Do people really think that if people are guilty will walk in and say i did this or that .It’s up to competant commissioners to probed to get to the bottom of the issues.If in any inquiry you are blaming the other in our case both political parties playing the blame game the inquiry should request evidence and proof.You don’t have to be given the answers on a plate by witnesses or victims. If for example one the soldiers say they were instructed to shoot to kill the inquiry should request the way it was communicated to them ,verbally or otherwise. We all want justice not political games.

  6. Raquel Langeveldt

    It is very simple bring the crouching tiger (soldier) to the stand let him testify where he got his orders from and who gave him a loaded gun.

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