BY BLESSED MHLANGA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power on the back of a coup in November 2017, is reportedly skirting critical recommendations contained in the former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe report on the August 1, 2018 shootings, to avoid unsettling his military backers.
The report on the August 1 post-election violent protests recommended that Mnangagwa’s government should bring to book soldiers and police who shot and killed six unarmed civilians during the post-election protests, some of whom were captured live on camera firing live ammunition on civilians.
The commission, in a report presented to government over four months ago, also recommended that: “Those particular members of the military and the police found to have been in breach of their professional duties and discipline on August 1, 2018 should be identified as soon as possible for internal investigations and appropriate sanction, which should include hearing from the victims and their families for impact assessment and to provide the necessary compensation.”
The commission’s report also called for an international and national-mediated multi-party dialogue to ease the political tensions and facilitate the healing process.
“The commission recommends the establishment of a multi-party reconciliation initiative, including youth representatives, with national and international mediation to address the root causes of the post-election violence and to identify and implement strategies for reducing tensions, promoting common understandings of political campaigning, combating criminality and uplifting communities,” the report reads.
Victims and relatives of the August 1 deadly shootings have accused Mnangagwa of dumping the report for political expedience.
Four months after the report was presented to government with recommendations which included compensating victims of the shootings, payment of school fees for children of those killed by the military and holding the killers to account, there seems to be no movement on the ground.
A sister of one of the victims shot dead during the riots said they had not heard or received any help from the government.
“We are waiting, but it’s been hard. My brother was the breadwinner and at the moment, we are struggling to make ends meet. We don’t see the benefits of the commission other than that it was used to create an image of a government that cares. They don’t!” she fumed, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But Justice ministry secretary Virginia Mabiza denied reports that government had ignored the Motlanthe report.
“Remember, the President set a special taskforce of ministers to deal with these issues and we are already at an advanced level of dealing with these matters, including compensation of victims, security sector reforms and multi-party dialogue, which is already being implemented,” she said.
Mabiza said the special taskforce would table its recommendations to Cabinet for approval before compensation and other matters are rolled out.
“We have already started with the realignment of laws, and other issues have been discussed at the taskforce. You should know that things like compensation involve mobilising resources and this is why we have roped in the Ministry of Finance to assist us, but work is being done and the report has not been dumped,” she added.
Opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said it would be foolhardy to expect Mnangagwa to reform the military or own up to mistakes made by the army as it would be tantamount to biting the hand that feeds him.
“Mr Mnangagwa’s government is much worse at everything than any other government Zimbabwe has ever had. It is incompetent; it lacks the brains; it has no capacity; it has no central thought; it is without a philosophy of governance and it is fairly weak. It requires a bit of brain to survive on the basis of military activity. There’s no way Mr Mnangagwa could have been genuine about dealing with military excesses,” Chamisa said through his spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda.
“We have said it that there was no will to implement the recommendations of the commission. It was just a public relations stunt to try and wash their hands in the eyes of the international community, but they were exposed when they went on to shoot dead 17 people in January. Again, the army is their centre of power and they won’t touch it. This is why Zimbabwe needs a transitional mechanism to implement genuine reforms and change our trajectory from a troubled and divided nation.”
Chamisa said Mnangagwa would not be moved to do anything.
“The army will always do what it wants and Mnangagwa can do nothing about it. He does not even dream about doing anything about it. Part of the problem, even with the army, may be that he is actually its titular leader and maybe causing so much confusion within its ranks,” he said.
“This means that even if the army would let him carry out reforms, it would be easy to notice that he is the problem. We have an unhinged President who has an untold level of intellectual capacity. He just does not have a good history as a thinker throughout his nearly eight decades of life on earth.”
Mnangagwa has moved to open multi-party dialogue with minority opposition parties after Chamisa and other opposition leaders boycotted the process, accusing the Zanu PF leader of being conflicted.