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.