One Year On-Amnesty demands justice for August 1 post-election violence victims

As US  imposes sanctions on August 1 shootings commander

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

An international human rights watchdog is seeking for   justice to last year’s August 1 post-election violence victims who were killed and injured by the army.

In a press statement, Amnesty International cited that the soldiers who were involved in the atrocities last year are still free.

“One year on, the soldiers who opened fire on protesters in the aftermath of the general elections, killing at least six of them and causing injuries to scores more, have still not been held accountable for their actions,” states Amnesty International

The organisation’s deputy director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda says what worries is that there is overwhelming evidence incriminating the soldiers.

“The tragedy of the post-election shootings is compounded by the fact that no one in the army suspected to be responsible for the bloodshed has been held to account for these brutal killings.

“This is despite the fact that the alleged perpetrators have been identified through the media and social media videos and pictures,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

He also implored the government to act as a matter of urgency.

“If the Zimbabwean government wants to demonstrate that it is committed to human rights, it needs to ensure that the wheels of justice start turning faster than they have done over the past year.

“Authorities must institute a thorough, effective and impartial investigations into the killings of protesters, some of whom were killed while fleeing, with those found to have acted unlawfully brought to justice through fair trials,” added  Muleya Mwananyanda.

But according to political commentator Setfree Mafukidze there is no hope that the new administration will bring justice to the August 1 2018 post- election violence .

“ I do not see any justice coming for those who died post 2018 elections, look this chapter is one of those “moments of madness” which will not get any attention beyond the Kgalema Motlanthe Commission facade.

“My question is why we have National Peace and Reconciliation Commission?These are the people who must be dealing with such issues and making sure closure is brought about, imagine Itai Dzamara is missing to this day and government has not done anything except absolving themselves of wrong doing,” retorted Mafukidze.

However ,another political commentator Irvine Takavada  believes the Mnangagwa administration is desperate to appease the international community and will thus sacrifice some members of the army involved in the killings.

“If you recall that the Motlanthe Commission recommended that  the  members of the army who were involved in the post-election violence be brought to book and the US has also pressured and the government is under intense pressure so it is going to sacrifice one or two of those soldiers involved,” said Takavada.

The Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry public hearings had their  own fair share  of drama as the two rival parties ,  Zanu and MDC   took time to blame each other for the post-election killings and in its findings ‘Commission was struck by the deep polarisation between the country’s two main political parties  ZANU-PF and MDC-Alliance  and their supporters.’

The Commission of Inquiry concluded that the killings should have been avoidable if the police ‘was to  be equipped with the necessary skills and capacity for dealing with rioters’ and it is such a recommendation that has seen the police force undergoing rigorous paramilitary trainings which the opposition parties cites as preparation to quell any future protests.  .

Meanwhile in a statement issued Thursday, the office of the spokesperson of the US Secretary of State, wrote that it had publicly designated Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe “due to his involvement in gross violation of human rights.”

Citing Section 7031 (c) of Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriation Act, the statement further stated that “the department had credible information “ of General Sanyatwe’s involvement in the crackdown against unarmed civilians.

“The Department has credible information that Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe was involved in the violent crackdown against unarmed Zimbabweans during post-election protests on August 1, 2018 that resulted in six civilian deaths,” read the statement.

Reacting to the designation, Zimbabwe’s permanent secretary of information Nick Mangwana dismissed the sanctions as wrong, and said the U.S. was unjustified in taking such actions against a citizen of Zimbabwe.

“There is no justification for any Zimbabwean citizen to be placed under sanctions, more so those sanctions that are not coming through Chapter 7 of the United Nations Security Council. So, these sanctions are not justified,” said Mangwana. “We have a process in the nation where if somebody has committed a crime they will be charged for that crime, and by our institutions, but not for any country to put anyone under sanctions.”

Further, Mangwana said, even the seven-member Commission of Inquiry led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, that was tasked by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to investigate the August 1st killings, had not attributed blame to anyone in particular. Mangwana said Sanyatwe was never accused of firing a gun, or ordering anyone to shoot and kill.

“Even the Motlanthe Commission did not apportion blame on any particular individual,” said Mangwana. “Yes they made recommendations that it would have been handled differently. But that is not to say that retired General Sanyatwe did one, two or the other.”

Six people were gunned down last August following protests over delays by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in announcing presidential election results of the July 30 poll.

However, political analysts Ernest Mudzengi said the sanctions against Sanyatwe, were appropriate, given that no one has been held accountable for the killings.