DEAR Mr President,
We write to your esteemed office with great concern over the apparent lack of will to implement recommendations of the Motlanthe commission of inquiry.
Just to refresh your memory, the commission of inquiry was established after six civilians were shot in cold blood (by the army) in Harare’s central business district on August 1, 2018 following protests over the late announcement of presidential election results.
Below are the names of those who lost their lives as a result of the army shootings:
1) Sylvia Maphosa (53)
2) Gavin Dean Charles (48)
3) Ishmael Kumire (41)
4) Jealous Chakandira (21)
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5) Challenge Tauro (20)
6) Brian Zhuwawo (26)
An estimated 35 people were injured as a result of the military action.
Following widespread condemnation of this military action, you established the Motlanthe commission of inquiry whose terms of reference included the following:
- a) To inquire into the circumstances leading to August 1, 2018 post-election violence;
- b) To identify the actors and their leaders, their motive and strategies employed in the protests;
- c) To inquire into the intervention by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the maintenance of law and order;
- d) Investigate the circumstances that necessitated the military’s involvement in the maintenance of law and order;
- e) To consider whether the degree of force used was proportionate to the ensuing threat to public safety, law and order;
- f) To ascertain the extent of damage/ injury thereof;
- g) Investigate into any other matter which the commission of inquiry may deem appropriate and relevant to the inquiry;
- h) To make suitable recommendations; and
- i) Present a comprehensive report of findings and recommendations to the President
The appointment of the commission of inquiry in 2018 raised hopes of a government that was willing to push for accountability and end the pervasive culture of impunity, but we note with great concern, Your Excellency, that four years later, government is yet to implement recommendations of the commission which include; compensation for the victims, holding perpetrators to account, instituting security sector and electoral reforms and promoting political tolerance, reconciliation and nation building through an inclusive national dialogue framework.
Instead, Zimbabwe continues to witness wanton acts of electoral and political violence perpetrated, in most cases against members of the opposition.
On top of this, details on the work of the inter-ministerial task force, which was tasked with addressing issues arising from the recommendations of the Motlanthe commission of inquiry, remain scanty.
Your Excellency, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has and continues to engage with victims of the August 1, 2018 shootings as well as relatives of the deceased and we can authoritatively say that none of them has been compensated and for us this points to a lack of political will on the part of the government of Zimbabwe regarding implementation of the Motlanthe commission of inquiry recommendations.
As highlighted above, you raised hopes of a government that was willing to push for accountability, justice and healing when you appointed the Motlanthe commission of inquiry, but the failure to implement the recommendations is pointing out that this could have been mere politicking.
Respectfully, this is unacceptable, Mr President.
Relatives of the deceased and victims of the shootings need healing, closure and compensation. The wise counsel you received from the commission must surely be of value to you. The commission was made up of people of high repute and that they gave those recommendations must surely have been of great significance to your actions in its wake.
Justice must prevail and perpetrators of this heinous act must be held to account.
We implore you to walk the talk.
More importantly, we implore the Government of Zimbabwe, which you lead, to:
- Fully implement the Motlanthe commission recommendations in its letter and spirit and ensuring that details relating to the work of the inter-ministerial task force, which was established to look into issues arising from the Motlanthe commission report, are made public.
- Prosecute military personnel who killed unarmed civilians on August 1, 2018.
- Implement section 210 of the Constitution on the independent complaints mechanism to ensure accountability on violations perpetrated on civilians by security forces.
- Compensate the victims of August 1, 2018 including paying school fees and the upkeep of children of the deceased.
- Set up a genuine multi-stakeholder dialogue platform to agree on the reform agenda. Stakeholders must include government, civic society organisations, churches, trade unions and opposition political parties and students, among others.
- Respect the rule of law and constitutionalism including implementing the Constitution
- End on-going human rights violations and impunity, respect political diversity and political pluralism
- Ensure the independence of State institutions, including independent commissions, the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Judiciary.
- Desist from unnecessary deployments of the military to conduct civilian policing duties and using live ammunition against unarmed civilians.
- Promote public awareness of the Constitution of Zimbabwe including inclusion in the national education curricula and training for members of the security forces in line with section 7 of the Constitution.
l Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is a grouping of civic society organisations that focuses on democracy, human rights, good governance and sustainable development issues — working locally, regionally and internationally