Today, 1 August, marks exactly a year after the army shot and killed unarmed civilians who were protesting over the delay by ZEC in the releasing of the results of the 31 July polls. The shootings led to the setting up of a commission of inquiry led by former South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe. Whilst the Motlanthe commission was commendable and was then arguably the best move forward, it is worrying that none of its recommendations has been implemented so far. Heal Zimbabwe is therefore gravely concerned that a year on, victims of the army brutality are still to taste justice.
In the aftermath of the shootings, Heal Zimbabwe through its rapid response services managed to assist a total of 44 victims (20 were shot by live bullets while 24 others were incarcerated) with medical services, safe shelter, funeral support and food. Up to this day, Heal Zimbabwe has remained in close contact with victims on their way to recovery. What is quite disheartening is that after devoting resources to set up the commission, its recommendations remain shelved up to this day. In essence, the inquiry has turned out to be a gesture by the government for political correctness and a mere waste of public resources.
Heal Zimbabwe contends that the reluctance by government to implement recommendations from the commission all but confirms the widely-held perception of a lack of political will. Some of the commissions’ recommendations included the need for accountability in respect of the alleged perpetrators and compensation for loses and damages including school fees for the children of the deceased. Added to this, the setting up of an independent complaints mechanism as provided for in Section 210 of the constitution remains a pipeline dream. This key commission will be responsible for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct. The August 1, 2018 shootings add to the country’s long list of key reconciliation issues that needs redress. Other unresolved reconciliation issues include past state sponsored atrocities such as Gukurahundi and the 2008 atrocities. The events of August 1 have also shown that the state has long abdicated its responsibility of protecting its citizens and ensuring their welfare and security.
In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe implores the government to swiftly implement all recommendations of the Motlanthe commission. Added to this, government must further ensure that the independent complaints mechanism provided for in the constitution is set up without further delay.