Motlanthe to lead probe into post-election shootings

Former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe

FORMER South African President Kgalema Motlanthe will chair a seven-member commission of inquiry into Zimbabwe’s post-election violence.

Seven people were left dead following a military crackdown on opposition protesters in Harare on August 1, tainting an election that had been largely violence-free and drawing international condemnation.

Former Commonwealth secretary general Emeka Anyaoku

President Emmerson Mnangagwa undertook to set up a panel including international figures, to investigate the bloody incident.

On Wednesday, Mnangagwa named Motlanthe, who mediated in Zimbabwe’s political crisis during his brief stint as South Africa’s president between 2008-9, as the chair of the commission of inquiry. During this time, he oversaw the inauguration of a power-sharing government set up by ZANU-PF and the opposition.

Retired former Tanzanian General Davis Mwamunyange

Other members are former Commonwealth secretary general Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria, Tanzania’s former defence chief, General Davis Mwamunyange and international human rights lawyer Rodney Dixon of the United Kingdom.

Former Law Society of Zimbabwe head Vimbai Nyemba and University of Zimbabwe academics, Lovemore Madhuku and Charity Manyeruke complete the cast.

International human rights lawyer Rodney Dixon

The commission of inquiry is expected to present a report to Mnangagwa three months after being sworn in.

Its terms of reference include investigating “the circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting in the maintenance of law and order,” Mnangagwa announced on Wednesday.

Former Law Society of Zimbabwe president, Vimbai Nyemba

It will also inquire into the police’s intervention and seek “to identify the actors and their leaders, their motive and strategies employed in the protests.”

The commission also has latitude to investigate any matters it considers to be relevant to its inquiry.

University of Zimbabwe political science professor Charity Manyeruke

The post-election violence, coupled with a victory disputed by the opposition, have slowed down Mnangagwa’s re-engagement with western powers that are key to the country’s economic recovery.

Western governments have held back endorsement of Mnangagwa’s disputed election and condemned the use of excessive force by the security forces.

University of Zimbabwe law professor Lovemore Madhuku

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May, on a visit to South Africa, described Mnangagwa’s decision to probe the post-election violence as “an important signal.”

“I was pleased to hear the president, Mnangagwa has said that he was setting up a commission into the violence we have seen taking place recently, I think that is an important step for zimbabwe. I think that’s a very important signal from him about the Zimbabwe he wants to see for the future and a Zimbabwe that’s taking the opportunities for its people for the future,” May said.