ED’s Commission Of Inquiry On Post Elections Violence Illegal: VERITAS

A local legal think tank group, VERITAS has described the commission of inquiry established by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to look into the post election violence that rocked Harare central business as illegal and unconstitutional.

According to Veritas Watch, the seven-member commission headed by former South African president, Kgalema Motlanthe was illegally appointed as the President did not do so with the advice of the cabinet.

“Section 110(6) of the Constitution states: “In the exercise of his or her functions, the President must act on the advice of the Cabinet, except when he or she is acting in terms of subsection (2) above.”  [Appointing a Commission of Inquiry does not come under subsection (2).

“When the President purportedly appointed the Commission there was no Cabinet to advise him,” said Veritas in a statement.

The legal watchdog further stated that the commission’s terms of reference appear to assume that the soldiers who shot dead six protesters were entitled to be on the streets of Harare fully armed with live ammunition and that their actions were justified.

“Thus paragraph (d) of the terms calls on the commission to investigate the circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military in maintaining law and order.  The questions in many people’s minds are:  who called out the military, and was it necessary to do so?  The answers to those questions are pertinent:  only the President could legally have called out the military in terms of section 213 of the Constitution, but he has suggested he did not do so.

“ If he didn’t, then who did?  As to whether it was necessary to call out the military, that question cannot be answered by a commission whose terms of reference tell it that it was indeed necessary,” stated Veritas.

A further problem with the terms of reference, according to Veritas, is that they relate only to the events of the 1st August, not to incidents of politically-motivated violence that allegedly occurred after that date, perpetrated mainly against opposition supporters.

“These alleged incidents have been reported and commented on both inside and outside the country, yet the commission will have no mandate to investigate them,” the statement further stated.

Veritas Watch also questioned the membership of the commission saying some of the local appointments have been criticized for not being impartial.

This is a reference to Professor Lovemore Madhuku, who participated in the July 30 elections against Mnangagwa as well as Political analyst Charity Manyeruke who has been described as a Zanu-PF sympathizer.

Veritas called on the commission to conduct its proceedings with the utmost transparency to avoid any suspicion of a cover-up.

“The purpose of the commission is not just to appease foreigners so that we can get their support and investment:  its main object should be to satisfy the people of Zimbabwe that the tragic events of the 1st August have been thoroughly probed and that the commission’s conclusions represent the real truth of what happened.  This can only be achieved if it conducts itself transparently,” noted Veritas Watch.

The legal think-tank added that witnesses should give their evidence in public for the sake of transparency with measures being put in place to prevent victims from being threatened or subjected to retribution for testifying before the commission.

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