By Richard Muponde
GOVERNMENT is yet to identify soldiers who shot and killed six civilians in the post-election violence on August 1, 2018.
The Kgalema Motlanthe commission of inquiry set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to probe the matter revealed that the victims were, indeed, shot by soldiers and recommended that the perpetrators be brought to book.
However, nothing has been done to bring the culprits to book, raising fears that Mnangagwa would rather sweep the matter under the carpet than prosecuting the military, which has been his biggest support base since his ascent to power through a November 2017 coup.
Contacted for comment over the delays, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi yesterday said investigations were still ongoing.
“The commission didn’t specifically pinpoint who are the individuals behind the shootings. The investigations were inconclusive,” he said.
“Recommending prosecution is very welcome, but how do you prosecute someone who you don’t know or hasn’t been identified? We have to ascertain who exactly was responsible. That way, it could be asked why they are (still walking) scot-free.”
Ziyambi also claimed children of the victims were being looked after by the government.
“What we have so far implemented is that the children of the victims are being taken care of by the Department of Social Welfare and paying their school fees,” he said.
But political analyst Eldred Masunungure believes the issue might die a natural death as Mnangagwa was afraid to touch the security sector, which forms the backbone of his rule.
“It should be passionately understood that this is a very sensitive sector which was the case even in Ian Smith’s days and Robert Mugabe maintained and consolidated it. Mnangagwa is here to just maintain that posture. Considering this attitude on security sector, I must say even if (MDC leader) Nelson Chamisa comes into power, he will tread carefully,” Masunungure said.
“We are talking of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, who are untouchable — whether top brass or the lower ranks. This heinous crime was done by the lower ranks, but he can’t touch them. It’s a systemic problem that makes politicians reluctant to meddle into the security sector, be it police, prisons and the military itself. It’s not Mnangagwa alone, but whoever goes to State House will find the constraints.”
MDC chairperson, Tabitha Khumalo said Mnangagwa could not do anything about the issue simply because his administration was failing to solve the Gukurahundi issue in which the same military was involved.
“This regime failed to deal with Gukurahundi. These people preach peace and practise war. They have made lies look like the truth and the truth like lies. They indicate left and turn right, so they are there to protect each other and will always sell the people a dummy,” she said.
After receiving the Motlanthe report, Mnangagwa said the use of live bullets by the military to quell the country’s post-election protests was “disproportionate and unjustified”.