RELEASE STATEMENT FOR THE REPORT ON THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO THE 1ST OF AUGUST 2018 POST ELECTION VIOLENCE
On the 14th of September 2018, I established a Commission of Inquiry into the 1st of August 2018 post-election violence in terms of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 10:07), through Proclamation 6 of 2018 published in Statutory Instrument 181 of 2018.
The Commission was chaired by His Excellency Kgalema Motlanthe, the former President of the Republic of South Africa and composed of six other Commissioners namely: —
- Mr Rodney Dixon QC, United Kingdom;
- Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Federal Republic of Nigeria;
- General Davis Mwamunyange, the former Chief of Defence Forces of the Tanzania People’s Defence Force;
- Professor Charity Manyeruke, Political Science, University of Zimbabwe;
- Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Faculty of Law, University of Zimbabwe; and
- Mrs Vimbai Nyemba, former President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe.
The terms of reference of the Commission were: —
- To inquire into the circumstances leading to the 1st of August 2018, post-election violence;
- To identify the actors and their leaders, their motive and strategies employed in the protests;
iii. To inquire into the intervention by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the maintenance of law and order;
- To investigate the circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting in the maintenance of law and order;
- To ascertain extent of damage or injury caused thereof;
- To investigate into any other matter which the Commission of Inquiry may deem appropriate and relevant to the inquiry;
vii. To make suitable recommendations; and
viii. To report to the President, in writing, the result of the inquiry within a period of three months from the date of swearing in of the Commissioners; and
- Direct that the inquiry may be held both in public, or privately, as the exigencies of the inquiry may determine.
The Commission was expected to complete its work within a period of three (3) months and to submit its final report to the President by the 19th of December 2018.
I have received and read the final report from the Commission and am satisfied that the Commission of inquiry diligently carried out its mandate. I would like to thank Honourable Kgalema Motlanthe and all the Commissioners for the work done on this challenging task.
I also want to thank all stakeholders who made representations to the Commission and all who cooperated with the Commission to ensure successful achievement of the Commission’s mandate.
I hereby release the report of the Commission.
FINDINGS OF COMMISSION
- The circumstances leading to the 1st of August 2018 post-election violence and the actors
- The environment preceding the 30th July, 2018 national elections was generally peaceful, with all political parties conducting their campaigns freely.
- The public media leaned more in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF whilst independent media was heavily tilted in favour of the MDC-Alliance.
- The elections conducted on the 30th of July 2018 were peaceful and orderly as supported by the observer missions report.
- The election itself was adjudged to have been free and fair by most observers as per their reports.
- The Commission was struck by the deep polarisation between the country’s two main political parties — ZANU-PF and MDC-Alliance — and their supporters.
- On the basis of the evidence presented to the Commission, the protests were pre-planned and well-orchestrated as shown, for example, by the fact that the groups arrived with containers of assortments of objects such as stones, bricks, sticks, posters etc, which they used in their demonstrations. The protests were not limited to Harare only, but also occurred in some other urban areas such as Gweru, where properties were also destroyed
- The demonstrations started peacefully in the morning in front of Harvest House, MDC-Alliance headquarters, and degenerated into violent protests as they split and moved to HICC, ZEC headquarters and ZANU-PF headquarters (western side of the CBD) and ZANU-PF Provincial Offices (eastern side of CBD) as the day progressed.
- The Commission found that the rioters were forcing ordinary people who were conducting their day-to-day business to join the riots. This move did not spare the physically incapacitated members of the public.
- Fake, fabricated and biased news on social media contributed to the violence.
- Having considered all the evidence, the Commission found on a balance of probabilities that speeches made by political leaders, mostly the MDC-Alliance before and after the elections heightened tensions and played a part in inciting some members of the public to protest.
The influence of these speeches is evidenced by demonstrators reproducing in many cases word for word the language used at the rallies in their songs and speeches during the demonstrations.
During the pre-election rallies, the MDC-Alliance had taken a position that if their Presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa did not win the election, they would protest; a threat that they implemented.
- The existence of arms in hands other than the military and the police cannot be dismissed, especially considering video footage from eNCA where a journalist was sounding warning of someone shooting from a building; the allegations of business owners using weapons to protect their properties; and the evidence of spent cartridge and bullet head found in a second floor of Gorlon House.
- As evidenced by its chairperson before the Commission, ZEC complied with the electoral law. She said that if there are any deficiencies in the law, these should be debated in Parliament.
- The Commission found that opposition political parties mistrusted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) during the recent elections.
- The intervention by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the maintenance of law and order
- The demonstrations were unsanctioned in terms of Section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act as the police had not been notified.
- According to the evidence received by the Commission, the police’s orders to disperse the protesters were not effectively carried out.
- Evidence showed that the demonstrators employed a tactic of appearing, dispersing and regrouping at different locations, thereby making it very difficult for the police to disperse them.
- The fact that the police were severely depleted because of duties at polling stations throughout the country and that they were ill-equipped did not help the situation. As the demonstrations degenerated into a riot, the police were overwhelmed.
- The circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting in the maintenance of law and order
The evidence showed that the Government deployed the military in accordance with the Constitution and the applicable law.
- The deployment of the military to assist the police in emergencies is provided for in terms of Section 213 (2) of the Constitution and Section 37(1) of Public Order and Security Act (Chapter 11:17)(POSA).
There was compliance with the relevant law as evidenced by the trail of communication between the relevant Government authorities.
- According to the evidence produced before the Commission, there is no doubt that many demonstrators became riotous and caused substantial damage, with several cars being set ablaze and there was a serious threat to public safety.
Moreover, there is evidence of damage to fuel pumps at Zuva Service Station at number 100 Chinhoyi Street, when about sixty (60) protesters attacked the station.
This evidence indicates that there was a risk of the service station being set alight. Given the nature of these actions, it was clear that had the riots not been checked, the situation could have escalated, resulting in disastrous consequences.
- It was, therefore, not surprising that the Commissioner-General of Police requested the Minister of Home Affairs to initiate the steps required by the Constitution and the applicable law for the deployment of the army to assist the police in the containment of the riots and the restoration of law and order.
- The Commission found that on the basis of all the prevailing circumstances, and in the light of all the evidence presented, including the rapid escalation of the situation in a very short space of time, the decision to deploy the military to assist the police in the containment of the riots was justified.
- The deployment could only have been avoided if the police were adequately experienced, better equipped, sufficient in numbers and more suitably organised. While recognising that in the circumstances, the deployment was unavoidable, the Commission considers that it would have been preferable if the police had been able to deal with the situation on their own.
- Whilst the deployment was lawful, the operational framework in terms of Section 37 (2) of POSA was not followed in that the deployed troops were not placed under the command of the regulating authority due to time constraints as acknowledged by the Commissioner-General of Police.
- Whether the degree of force used was proportionate to the ensuing threat to public safety, law and order
- Given that property and lives were under threat at various locations, and in light of the inability of the police to disperse the protesters, the firing by the army and the police of warning shots in the air in pursuit of their stated mission which was to clear the CBD of violent protesters was proportionate.
- However, the use of live ammunition directed at people, especially when they were fleeing, was clearly unjustified and disproportionate.
- The use of sjamboks, baton sticks and rifle butts to assault members of the public indiscriminately was also disproportionate.
- The extent of damage/injury caused
- It is undisputed that six (6) people died as a result of gunshot wounds and according to the evidence from the two major hospitals, twenty three (23) people were injured as a result of gunshots and one (1) person of assault. As noted above, in addition to these persons, there were eleven (11) persons who did not attend these hospitals, who were injured as a result of actions of the military and the police. The total number of persons injured is, therefore, thirty five (35).
- The six (6) dead bodies were collected from the following identifiable places:
- i) Slyvia Maphosa — at the corner of Inez Terrace and Kenneth Kaunda Avenue;
- ii) Ishmael Kumire — Cameron Street close to the intersection at Cameron Street and Jason Moyo Avenue;
iii) Gavin Dean Charles — Fourth Street and Speke Avenue;
- iv) Jelous Chikandira — Nelson Mandela Avenue and Rezende Street;
- v) Challenge Tauro — died at Parirenyatwa Hospital; and
- vi) Brian Zhuwawo — Coppacabanna area (as noted in the post mortem report).
- The Commission’s finding on a balance of probabilities from all the evidence received is that the deaths of these six (6) people and the injuries sustained by thirty five (35) others arose from the actions of the military and the police.
- At least six (6) persons sustained injuries as a result of the actions by the protesters.
- Several people and institutions had their property, including vehicles and wares either looted, damaged or burnt. A detailed list of these is attached as Annexure 8.
- In addition, the negative impact of the riots on the economy of the country as a whole has been assessed and reported on by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (Annexure 9).
- Any other matter which the Commission of Inquiry may deem appropriate and relevant to the inquiry
- The Commission received evidence of persisting grievance among communities, especially in Matabeleland and the Midlands, arising from the events of the past such as Gukurahundi.
- The Commission was concerned about incidents of politically related violence against women before, during and post-election period.
- The payment of compensation is recommended for all victims of the violence and dependants of the deceased.
Where the deceased had young children, they should be urgently assisted with school fees and their general welfare.
- The Government should put in place a special committee to assess and determine quantum of damages and compensation to be awarded to victims on a case-by-case basis.
- The Government should set up a fund to assist those directly affected.
- There is urgent need to avail medical support to all the injured such as Simeon Chipokosa, who still has a bullet lodged in his leg and Adriane Munjere, who requires physiotherapy for his hand.
- Political Parties
- There is a need for the registration of political parties so as to ensure accountability of party leaders.
The enforcement of the ZEC Code of Conduct for political parties has been hampered due to the absence of institutional obligations on the part of political parties.
- A nationwide campaign should be initiated to raise awareness and educate political parties and members of the public in general on the proper parameters for peaceful demonstrations and respect for national institutions.
- Election candidates must abide by the ZEC Code of Conduct and there is need for strict enforcement of the Code of Conduct. Parliament should consider passing a law to empower ZEC to sanction candidates who breach the Code of Conduct.
- A thorough review should be undertaken of all laws relating to hate speech, abuse of cyberspace and incitement to commit acts of violence.
- Political parties should be encouraged at all times to preach unity for the benefit of all Zimbabweans in order for the people to be able to live together as citizens of one nation despite their political differences.
- Electoral Reforms
- In order to enhance efficiency and transparency in the announcement of election results, the Commission recommends the development of ICT facilities for expeditious transmission of results to the Command Centre as soon as practicable.
- The Commission recommends that Parliament should consider adopting legislation to shorten the time taken in the announcement of presidential results in future elections.
- Enforcement of Law and Order
- The Commission recommends that Parliament should give consideration to aligning the POSA with the provisions of the Constitution on the deployment of the military internally.
- Police should be equipped with the necessary skills and capacity for dealing with rioters.
- Whilst the use of the military to assist the police for the control of public order, is recognised worldwide, this should only be resorted to as a last measure in extraordinary situations.
- The Commission recommends in the interests of national cohesion and the protection of all citizens, that the police should be further trained to be professional and non-partisan.
- The military should conduct an immediate and full audit of its standing orders and procedures for engagement in law and order enforcement operations, including riot control, in order to identify in an appropriate public report ,the lessons learnt and the tailored safeguards and targeted training to be undertaken to prevent any ill-discipline that could lead to loss of life and injury in the future on the part of its forces in highly politicised, tense, and stressful situations of crowd control.
This would include the firing of warning shots not in accordance with its standing operational procedures.
- The military, in conjunction with the police, should consider and adopt contingency policies and plans for emergency situations when the exigencies of time do not permit detailed consultations so that there are no gaps in the applicable procedure or any uncertainties or ambiguities, and that a workable operational plan at all levels is prepared in advance of any future possible disturbances.
The important point is that corporate failings must be prevented in the future.
- The use of live ammunition as warning shots should be discouraged and should only be used in limited circumstances of danger to public safety.
- Nation Building and Reconciliation
- The Commission recommends the establishment of a multi-party reconciliation initiative, including youth representatives, with national and international mediation to address the root causes of the post-election violence and to identify and implement strategies for reducing tensions, promoting common understandings of political campaigning, combating criminality, and uplifting communities.
- The Commission recommends that the National Peace and Reconciliation and Human Rights Commissions should increase their efforts to fully implement their mandates.
- There is need for national healing as highlighted by the continued reference, especially in Bulawayo and Gweru, to events such as Gukurahundi.
- The Commission recommends that a special attention should be given to the issue of harassment and violence, especially against women in institutions and politics.
- It is imperative for the police urgently to complete their investigations to enable the prosecution of those persons responsible for all alleged crimes committed on the 1st of August 2018.
- Those particular members of the military and the police found to have been in breach of their professional duties and discipline on the 1st of August 2018 should be identified as soon as possible for internal investigations and appropriate sanction, which should include hearing from the victims and their families for impact assessment and to provide the necessary compensation.
For the full report and executive summary visit the following website
For enquiries contact the Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on +263 242 777052.
The Government will study the recommendations and implement accordingly.