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No appetite to probe state security agents over injustices: Report


Motlanthe Commission ignored, recommendations still unfulfilled



FORMER director of legal drafting in the Attorney-General’s Office and top lawyer with legal think-tank Veritas, Brian Crozier, says the government’s failure to implement recommendations of a commission led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe which investigated the 1 August 2018 killings of six civilians by security forces has placed Zimbabwe in a precarious position ahead of the general elections.


The civilians were murdered during a demonstration by the opposition MDC-Alliance demanding the release of presidential results. The demonstration turned into a riot which was violently suppressed by the police and the army.  

Some of the victims were not part of the demonstrators, with some shot in the back while fleeing.

Thirty-five people were left with gunshot wounds while there was considerable damage to property.

Following allegations that the security services had used excessive force to suppress the riot, President Emmerson Mnangagwa set up a commission of inquiry headed by Motlanthe to investigate the circumstances leading to the violence.

The commission also looked at the conduct of the police and army in suppressing the demonstration and whether the use of force was proportionate.

The commission gave recommendations, including the need to compensate victims as well as families of the deceased.

It also recommended the amendment of the Electoral Act to shorten the time for presidential election results announcement from five days, changes in circumstances under which the military can be lawfully deployed to control civil unrest, and the training of police in riot control, professionalism and impartiality.

However, three weeks before Zimbabwe marks the fifth anniversary of the killings, the government has not implemented the Motlanthe recommendations.

Speaking to The NewsHawks on Thursday, Crozier said the failure by Zimbabwe to implement the recommendations could see the military disturbances of 1 August happening again, which could strain relations with South Africa.

“Mr Motlanthe is a senior member of the ANC, as well as former president of South Africa, and after having led the commission and made recommendations which were not implemented, he obviously will be unhappy about that,” Crozier said.

“He may choose to discuss that with his colleagues in the ANC to say my recommendations were not fulfilled five years on and that can cause concern for them and have effect on relations between the two countries.”

Crozier said while there is no law that makes recommendations of commissions binding, Mnangagwa had the moral and political obligation to ensure the recommendations were implemented.

“How do you gather such a big group of people for a commission and then do not implement the recommendations? Essentially commissions are not bound by any law, but there ought to be moral and political obligations for the implementation of the Motlanthe commission recommendations,” he said, adding: “Since the recommendations were not fulfilled, in future elections a political guy may just as well make a call and similar deployments made (to crush demonstrators)”.

The Motlanthe commission also said deployment of the military to assist the police should be a measure of last resort in extraordinary situations and that the army should conduct an audit of its standing orders and procedures for riot control and law enforcement.

The commission recommended that the military in conjunction with the police should adopt contingency plans for dealing with emergency situations and stressed that the use of live ammunition as warning shots should be discouraged and should be used only in limited circumstances of danger to public safety.

The Motlanthe commission recommended that all victims of violence and dependents of the deceased should be compensated and that the government set up a committee to assess the quantum of compensation and establish a fund to assist those affected.

While an inter-ministerial committee was set up in 2019 to implement this and other recommendations of the commission, the compensation fund has not been established. 

 Compensation has been paid to some victims who suffered property damage caused by rioters, but families of those who were killed, and people who suffered physical injuries, have not been compensated.  

Veritas has previously said this is inexplicable since those who were killed and injured by the military and police were identified and named in the commission’s report.

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