Post-poll violence commission criticism baseless

Post-poll violence commission criticism baseless
Published: 04 September 2018 (255 Views)
Following the unfortunate incident in which six people died in the post-election violence of August 1, 2018, which was instigated by the MDC-Alliance as it staged anti-Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) demonstrations in Harare, President Mnangagwa set up a seven-member commission of enquiry to investigate the issue.

The composition and other aspects of the commission have already been cause for relevance-seeking antics by detractors seeking to cast aspersions on the body.

The commission of inquiry into the post-election violence of August 1 2018, which is led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, includes regional and international commissioners - United Kingdom (UK) lawyer Rodney Dixon (QC), Nigerian and former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and former Chief of Tanzania's Defence Forces General Davis Mwamunyange.

Local commissioners are University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Prof Lovemore Madhuku, UZ dean of social sciences Prof Charity Manyeruke and former Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) president Vimbai Nyemba.

The commission's terms of reference include establishing the circumstances leading to the post-election violence, identifying the actors and their leaders and their motives, enquiring into the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)'s intervention and establishing what necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting to restore law and order among other issues.

The commission's tenure is three months. Barely hours into the tenure of the commission, some people, especially in the opposition camp, had already begun trying to poke holes into the body by criticising its composition.

Self-exiled former ZANU-PF member Prof Jonathan Moyo took to Twitter where he claimed that Motlanthe had been picked by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. He further claimed that Chief Anyaoku and Dixon were chosen by the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing. Prof Moyo also speculated that Mwamunyange and Manyeruke had allegedly been chosen by Vice President Costantino Chiwenga, while President Mnangagwa selected Prof Madhuku and Nyemba.

Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and for any person to claim that President Ramaphosa chose Motlanthe is preposterous, more so, coming from a whole professor. There is no way that President Mnangagwa would engage Motlanthe without consulting President Ramaphosa, but to insinuate that he was chosen without agreement is to overstretch one's imagination.

Prof Moyo gave the impression that President Mnangagwa and VP Chiwenga individually and separately chose commissioners, which is at best silly for anyone to claim. The President consults his deputies on such national business and nothing is amiss about VP Chiwenga suggesting some of the commissioners. Nothing is sinful or criminal about national leaders choosing commissioners in the normal course of their mandate and duty.

Other critics such as the self-exiled girl child rights activist Betty Makoni also sought to politicise the commissioner selection process by charging that Prof Manyeruke was a ZANU-PF member. First and foremost, she is a Zimbabwean citizen and professional who has every right to participate in the affairs of her country.

The opposition conveniently chose to overlook the choice of an opposition party leader Prof Madhuku to represent opposition interests and overplayed Prof Manyeruke's affiliation. This was obviously driven by Prof Madhuku's level headedness which has seen him criticise the MDC-Alliance and ZANU-PF without fear or favour when necessary.

The MDC-Alliance wanted its own representative in the commission, yet it is the one whose youths unleashed the orgy of violent protests against ZEC before the electoral body was done with announcing results. It cannot be a perpetrator and commissioner at the same time. Realising this conflicting position, some in the MDC-Alliance, who chose to find fault with Prof Madhuku's commissionership, gave that he was a presidential election candidate in the July harmonised election.

Nothing is as unrelated as his election candidature and his membership of the commission. The commission's brief is not about presidential elections and Prof Madhuku did not contest ZEC's handling of the election or the results. It is about establishing what happened in Harare city centre on August 1, 2018 and providing recommendations on how it can be prevented in future.

Prof Madhuku is, therefore not conflicted. If anyone is anything, it is the MDC-Alliance, which is confused by its defeat both in the polls and the Constitutional Court. Prof Moyo has also ineffectually attempted to criticise the President by claiming that the latter had constituted the commission in contravention of the law.

Zimbabweans will, however, remember that Prof Moyo left the country in a huff late last year, abandoning his law school studies and his competence to speak on legal issues is, therefore, questionable. He is the one who spoke amiss about the reckoning of the MDC-Alliance's electoral court deadline, which turned out to be at a tangent with the correct position as later spelt out by Chief Justice, Luke Malaba on August 24, 2018.

President Mnangagwa, who appointed the commission in terms of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 10:07), is a trained lawyer, while Prof Moyo is a law school dropout who is seeking relevance and attention. Other detractors have also sought to malign the appointment of the commission by referring to some past commissions of enquiries, whose results were not made public under the previous dispensation.

While the President has worked with the former President Robert Mugabe for many years and shared the liberation war trenches with him, he is his own man who should not be judged using Mugabe's stewardship of the country as a yardstick.

Such people should know that Mugabe is not Mnangagwa and Mnangagwa is not Mugabe. The way that President Mnangagwa has run the country for the past nine months has, without shadow of doubt, demonstrated that he is a different man with a refreshingly different vision for the nation.

The nation should give the commission time to discharge its mandate and present its findings and recommendations to the President. The President should then be judged on how he is going to act on the report and not on the basis of his past association with the former President.

- the herald

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