SINCE the bloody protests in Harare on August 1, Zimbabweans have been hearing different narratives about the tragic day. Six people were shot dead by soldiers, while several others were injured, as the police and army moved in to quell violent protests by rowdy MDC Alliance supporters who rampaged through the Harare central business district, burning vehicles, stoning shops and attacking ordinary citizens.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
The MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is blaming government and the military, while President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa is pointing a finger at the opposition party over the protests that turned bloody. Unfortunately, this is just counterproductive.
While those responsible must be held accountable for the cold-blooded killings and violence, what is more important now is for the political parties and their leaders to collectively condemn these acts of brutality and get to the bottom of it to ensure the victims get justice.
The accusations and counter-accusations won’t get the country anywhere. What is desirable, now that Mnangagwa has already taken the lead on this, is to ensure that the impartial investigation he promised begins forthwith.
This means that if someone, irrespective of position and status, is found to have acted unconstitutionally, then the law must take its course.
If it is found there was a communication problem between the police and the army, someone must be held responsible at that level. People want an explanation as to who ordered the army to come in and what instruction was given to them.
Basically, there must be accountability where there was breakdown in communication, or indeed, where there was an irresponsible command or action taken by those on the ground.
Politicians must now stop the blame game. Atrocities of the past and impunity must not be repeated, where no one took responsibility in state-sponsored killings.
The worst the country can do is to allow impunity to be the winner. If not dealt with, it will breed unending human rights violations. Impunity must be halted immediately.
What the opposition party did on the day in question was deplorable and condemnable. Even if they had grievances about the election process, there was no need to burn cars and destroy property. Such actions are unlawful and beyond their constitutional rights. They put people’s lives at risk. It was beyond the constitution’s scope of the freedom of expression as the protesters were breaching other citizens’ freedoms.
While the opposition was reckless and must be condemned, government was even more irresponsible for using deadly force. Minimum force is justifiable to ensure the rule of law prevails. Nobody has the right to kill. As the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission stated, the right to life cannot be infringed. It is more important than any other and cannot, therefore, be abridged or recklessly violated.
Politicians must stop the blame game and get on with the investigations for justice to prevail and prevent impunity.