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Motlanthe Commission shuts out witnesses: NGO Forum


Upenyu Chaota

The
Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence which saw soldiers
gunning down six civilians on the streets of Harare on August 01 has drawn the
ire of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum which claims some evidence and
witnesses are being shutting out.
The
Commission of Inquiry announced that it had completed its process of gathering
oral evidence through public hearings on November 27.
In
a press statement, the Forum slammed the former South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe-led commission for not acknowledging their witnesses and evidence.
“On
the 5th of October 2018, the Forum’s Chairperson Ms Jestina Mukoko wrote to the
Commission giving it evidence on the events of the 1st of August 2018.  In the letter, she promised to furnish
further evidence to the Commissioners and requested that she be called to
testify before the Commission.
“On
October 12, Mukoko wrote again and attached a bundle of evidence which included
affidavits of evidence of 18 victims and witnesses to the shootings as well as
evidence of the relatives of the deceased. 
“The
evidence also contained post-mortem reports of the deceased clearly showing
that they died of gunshots wounds. In the cover letter accompanying this
evidence, the Forum’s Chairperson once again offered herself to appear before
the Commission and give oral evidence as well as to answer any questions
regarding this evidence. 
“Neither
was she nor 15 of the witnesses whose evidence was placed before the Commission
called to testify,” said the Forum.
The
Forum said it is gravely concerned by the lack of clarity regarding
acknowledgement or feedback on evidence submitted before the Commission of
Inquiry and the absence of mechanisms to ensure the safety of witnesses.
“The
key issue of concern is the lack of transparency on procedures of handling the
evidence submitted to the Commission. There was no acknowledgment or feedback
received from the Commission of submissions filed by the Forum and its members
who made individual submissions.
“These
are Veritas, Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights, Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights and Zimbabwe Peace Project. The Submissions were filed
via email and hand delivered to the Commission Secretariat at the Commission’s
offices at Cresta Lodge Hotel.
“The
Commission has announced that it concluded the hearings and it is now
consolidating the information received, yet we have no way of establishing
whether our submissions have reached the Commission,” said the Forum in a
statement.
The
Forum  called on chairperson Motlanthe to
take measures to ensure that the evidence submitted has been given due
consideration and that there is feedback to the stakeholders who made such
submissions and that he personally acknowledge that the information has been
received and that it will be considered.

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