BY VENERANDA LANGA
LEGAL think-tank Veritas has rapped government’s lethargy in implementing recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the August 1, 2018 post-election violence in which military personnel shot and killed six civilians.
Veritas said while the commission, which was chaired by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, made key findings, it failed to acknowledge Zimbabweans’ right to demonstrate and the right to life, which it said was sacrosanct.
“More than a month after the commission’s full report was published, therefore, little seems to have been done to implement its recommendations, and former Rhodesian President Ian Smith, leader of the pre-independence white regime, used to establish a ‘small high-powered committee’ whenever he was faced with a politically embarrassing problem; by the time the committee delivered its report, he hoped, the problem would have gone away,” Veritas said in a statement.
“History repeats itself, first as a farce, and now as a tragedy,” they said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently set up an inter-ministerial taskforce to look at the recommendations and ensure that they are implemented.
It comprises Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi (chairperson), Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo (deputy chairperson), Monica Mutsvanga (Information), Mthuli Ncube (Finance), Cain Mathema (Home Affairs), Mangaliso Ndlovu (Industry), Owen Ncube (State Security) as well as Attorney-General Prince Machaya, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, and a representative of the Law Society of Zimbabwe.
Some of the Motlanthe-led commission’s recommendations included compensation for the shooting victims, trial of perpetrators, review of laws relating to hate speech, abuse of cyberspace and incitement to violence, amendments of the Electoral Act, alignment of Public Order and Security Act on deployment of the military with the Constitution, and that the police should be given the skills and capacity to handle riots, among others.
“Few, if any, of these recommendations have been implemented. The government has set up an ad-hoc Cabinet committee to assess damage caused during the recent disturbances — but not to compensate victims of the August 1 riots,” Veritas said.
The think-tank said while the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission had announced a “multi-stakeholder consultative dialogue process” to find ways out of the current economic and political situation, it was worrying that some opposition politicians were being prosecuted, but not for crimes arising out of the August 1 riot.
None of those responsible for the killings have been brought to book, Veritas said.
They also criticised the Motlanthe report for failing to mention that section 59 of the Constitution gives everyone the right to demonstrate peacefully, and that section 86(3) of the Constitution says life cannot be limited or violated by any law.
“Hence, any killing by the police or army, in whatever circumstances, is illegal. The report makes no mention of this, even though Veritas sent a written submission to the commission pointing it out.”