Zimbabwe: Doubts over Commission of Inquiry's independence puts justice for post-election killings at risk
The Zimbabwean authorities must bolster the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry into the country’s post-election killings if victims’ families have any hope of obtaining truth, justice and reparations, Amnesty International said today after the swearing in of the commissioners.
The authorities must show that this Commission is not a fig leaf intended to cover the human rights violations and abuses committed in the aftermath of the election
The organization is also concerned about the independence and impartiality of the Commission, which includes a presidential candidate in the 30 July elections, who has criticized opposition parties challenging the results of the vote, and an academic, who has publicly expressed her support for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). Commissioners with strong ties or support of ZANU-PF may compromise the independence and impartiality of the investigation and expose it to external interference.
“Zimbabweans deserve to know what happened in the bloody aftermath of the elections, including who shot six people dead, who gave the command to shoot and who was responsible for the deployment of soldiers. But as the Commission of Inquiry’s mandate stands right now, they may never know,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
“The authorities must show that this Commission is not a fig leaf intended to cover the human rights violations and abuses committed in the aftermath of the election. The first step is to broaden the Commission’s mandate to investigate violations and abuses committed by all parties involved.”
The first step is to broaden the Commission’s mandate to investigate violations and abuses committed by all parties involved
Amnesty International also called on the government to provide guarantees that all witnesses testifying before the Commission are protected.
“The repressive political climate in Zimbabwe and the government’s post-electoral purging of opponents means that many witnesses may be too frightened to testify,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.
“The Commission must ensure it adheres to international standards for thorough, impartial and effective investigations, and make certain that there are proper safeguards to protect those testifying.”
Amnesty International also called on the authorities to ensure the Commission of Inquiry is held in public and provides a clear timeframe for its work. It is imperative that its report setting out recommendations is made public as soon as it is concluded.
At least six people were killed in violence following Zimbabwe’s 30 July election and dozens more arbitrarily arrested in a government crackdown on supporters of the opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which disputed official election results declaring President Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of the vote.
President Mnangagwa announced on 29 August a Commission of Inquiry to look into the post-election violence. The seven commissioners appointed are:
- Kgalema Motlanthe, former South African president
- Rodney Dixon QC, British lawyer
- Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary General
- General Davis Mwamunyange, former Chief of Defence Forces, Tanzania
- Professor Lovemore Madhuku, University of Zimbabwe Law Faculty and presidential candidate in July 2018 election
- Professor Charity Manyeruke, University of Zimbabwe Political Science Faculty
- Vimbai Nyemba, former President of Zimbabwe Law Society