Post-poll violence inquiry: Opposition attempting to score cheap political points

Post-poll violence inquiry: Opposition attempting to score cheap political points
Published: 22 October 2018 (302 Views)
The seven-member Commission of Inquiry into the 1 August 2018 post-poll violence incident in which six people died in Harare city centre commenced its work last week with witnesses testifying on their experiences. The accounts were characterised by two main sentiment types. There were heartfelt expressions of the unfortunate and regrettable loss of life by those who lost their loved ones and those who lost property on one side, and those who sought to use both incident and the commission's work to wring non-existent political capital on the other hand.

Some of the witnesses, who have so far testified have implicated the MDC T Chamisa faction leader, Nelson Chamisa, his deputy chairman, Tendai Biti and former ZANU PF Harare Provincial Youth League Chairman, Jim Kunaka as having been at the forefront of organising and inciting the rowdy MDC youths who wreaked havoc in the city centre on the day in question. While Chamisa and Kunaka have not responded to their implication in the opposition's mindless orgy of violence during the tail end of the last election season, Biti has sought to divert attention from his party's apparent prominent role in the violence by drawing the world's attention to the involvement of the Army in quelling the violence.

"The real issue about (the) 1 August (incident) is who gave the order to deploy the Army & on what basis? Who gave the order to shoot an unarmed civilian population? We will therefore not accept ZANU PF's diversionary attempts to create fake news and to defame victims," stated Biti on his twitter handle in response to the commission's work.

One wonders where Biti gets the justification to claim the moral high ground from which he is pointing fingers when he and Chamisa in the run-up to July 30 elections shamelessly declared that their political outfit would not accept any poll result other than one which conferred victory on them. As if this was not enough, Biti repeated his 2008 criminal act of declaring the MDC-T Chamisa faction and Chamisa as the winners in blatant disregard of the law which precludes anyone other than the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) from announcing election results. The question that readily comes to mind is: If Biti and his so called alliance were right, why then did he attempt to sneak out of the country to seek political asylum in Zambia?

If anyone is attempting to be diversionary on the matter, it is Biti and his opposition colleagues who are trying to re-frame the commission's terms of reference and mandate by limiting it to only inquiring into how the Army ended up assisting the police in quelling the out-of-hand political violence at the expense of also establishing how the whole incident started. This is obviously because Biti and his fellow opposition members are complicit in unleashing political violence on innocent Harareans, businesspeople and their property all in pursuit of narrow and selfish political interests.

Government has never attempted to cover up the involvement of the Army in the incident. If anything, this is the reason why it appointed the commission so that it can get to the bottom of the matter to enable the nation to find closure to the issue and move on. If the involvement of the police and the army is part of the commission's brief surely it should also establish how an opposition party ended up announcing its own non-existent win and protesting violently in Harare against ZEC which was still in the process of collating and announcing results. Zimbabweans and the world are keen to know how an opposition alliance, that claims to champion democracy and pledged a to peaceful elections in a pact with other political parties in June at the Harare International Conference Centre,  ended up causing unnecessary violence and, by extension, deaths in Harare during so important a national democratic process as an election.

Apart from the MDC-T Chamisa's futile attempts at diverting the nation and the world's attention from its apparent guilt in the 1 August incident, it has also sought to malign the process and some of the commission members in what seems to be an agenda to embarrass and disrespect President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who appointed the commission. In this regard, one of the opposition activists, Makomborero Haruzivishe late last week took to the witness' stand and, instead of giving an account of what he witnessed, went off at a tangent dwelling loud and long on the person of one of the commissioners, Rodney Dixon of the United Kingdom. He accused Commissioner Dixon of being on the side of Government and allegedly wasting the taxpayers' money by being part of the commission. Haruzivishe further claimed that Commissioner Dixon was part of a similar commission in Sri Lanka in the past where he (Haruzivishe) charged that the commission was paid US$400 000.

Local commissioners such as Professors Charity Manyeruke and Lovemore Madhuku were not spared either. Prof Manyeruke was accused of being a ZANU PF member as of it is criminal to support the party. Professor Madhuku took flak for agreeing to be a Commissioner despite suffering in what he (Haruzivishe) termed police brutality back in March 2007. Surely the professors have a constitutional right to associate with whoever they choose without having to seek leave from Haruzivishe. The purpose of the enquiry is not to entertain questions on the composition or remuneration of the commission. If Haruzivishe was serious about the two aspects of the commission the courts are in place to entertain and rule on such matters should an aggrieved citizen approach them. The fact that he waited for the hearings to raise his complaints betrays his intention to score political points and play to the gallery of anti-Government elements.

Haruzivishe and his cheerleaders such as Edmund Kudzayi, Prof Jonathan Moyo and Alex Magaisa should know that if they do not support President Mnangagwa and ZANU PF it does not mean that the President and the party are everyone's enemy. They should also know that not every situation requires the student politics type of militancy and defiance which Haruzivishe displayed to the esteemed commission.  Apart from the misplaced cheers from Magaisa, Moyo, Kudzayi and other like-minded people, Haruzivishe did not gain anything from responding to the commission's question on the number of military personnel that he saw on 1 August by disrespectfully indicating that President Mnangagwa should know.

Political analyst and twitter user, Kudzayi Mtisi aptly summed up the opposition's behaviour during the hearings so far when he tweeted that;
"All MDC Alliance aligned witnesses are displaying similar traits: disrespect for commissioners, lack of substance (except) just hollow comments, lying about the reality and, instead of facts, they are spewing conspiracies and nefarious conclusions (as well as) unhinged anger."

So far the MDC-T Chamisa faction has wasted a valuable opportunity to give its side of the story by playing to the gallery and seeking to win what it lost in the ballot box and in the Constitutional Court. If it sought to gain sympathy, it may lose more of it for taking the commission's work as child's play.


- Nobleman Runyanga

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