The Movement for Democratic Change has been following political and economic events in the country. Among other ills, we note with concern the unpalatable suffering of the masses, price hikes and currency shortages. Drugs are now either being sold in US dollars or are unavailable.
Further to that, we have noted events at the commission of inquiry into the murder of innocent and unarmed civilians on the 1st of August 2018.
Given the clear constitutional provisions governing the deployment of armed forces in Zimbabwe, the Commission of Inquiry was largely unnecessary. The answers are clearly located in the President’s office. The testimonies of some of the leaders’ of our State institutions have exposed to the world the absolute disregard of the truth on their part.
This is, however, common in largely corrupt, irresponsible and unaccountable governance systems worldwide.
It appears to us that these leaders seem to have temporarily forgotten that these events took place in the full glare of the public and received comprehensive, fair, balanced and uncompromised reporting from the local and international media.
Various media organisations took and aired live footage of events as they unfolded on the 1st of August. The brazen lies and perjuristic testimonies by high ranking state security and government officials have vindicated what we have always said about the culture of our governance.
Historically, we have been at pains to explain how Zimbabweans are living under oppression and subjugation from a captured state. It is characterised by the following;-
i. There is no iota of accountability
ii. There is total disregard of constitutionalism and the rule of law
iii. There is blatant abuse of State institutions
iv. Absence of transparency
v. Total disregard of people’s rights and freedoms
The democratic movement and the People’s Party, we owe a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe, the region and our international partners to set the record straight in view of the brazen lies being concocted at the Commission of Inquiry. The sole purpose of this concoction is covering up the heinous crime against humanity perpetrated against the people of Zimbabwe.
The MDC wishes to set the record straight regarding –
i. Why the MDC is not participating in the Commission of Inquiry
ii. The history of state sponsored, state sanctioned and state protected violence in Zimbabwe
iii. The founding and existential values of the MDC
iv. The publicly known events of the 1st of August
v. The Vanguard
vi. The internal procedures of the MDC for Party demonstrations
vii. Our rights as enshrined under s59 of the Constitution and the MDC’s commitment to peace
viii. The testimonies heard at the Commission of Inquiry
ix. Relationship between the MDC and state institutions
2) The Commission of Inquiry
The MDC was invited to make written, as opposed to oral submissions to the Commission of Inquiry. That was totally unacceptable to us as it amounted to giving evidence in private. However, regardless of these preliminary misgivings, the Party leadership met in October to deliberate on the role and work of the Commission and took a well-considered and informed decision not to participate in the proceedings of the Commission for the following reasons.
– The MDC regards the Commission of Inquiry as a perpetuation of the fruitless and wasteful expenditure characteristic of the ZANUPF government which has brought untold suffering to our people. In any case there is a constitutional commission in the form of the NPRC whose terms of references are dependent on the constitution not a conflicted individual.
– We concur with the common sentiment among our people that the shooting and killing of unarmed and innocent civilians by the military happened in the full view of everyone and therefore what happened is public knowledge which means the Commission is completely unwarranted.
– The Terms of Reference of the Commission of Inquiry suggest a compromised process deliberately calculated not to answer the key and only important question which is – Who ordered the killing of innocent unarmed civilians? The Terms of Reference are clearly calculated to achieve a sinister agenda of imputing the responsibility of the 1 August killings on leaders of the democratic movement.
– The appointment of the Commission appears to be a mere cover-up for government PR purposes rather than a truth and fact-finding process.
– The appointment of some compromised and conflicted members of the Commission casts doubts on the transparency, professionalism and integrity of the both the process and outcome thereof.
– The deployment of the military is clearly and deliberately the prerogative of the President in terms of the Constitution. President Mnangagwa cannot establish a Commission of inquiry to investigate himself. We have precedent from South Africa where the Constitutional Court ruled that where the President is conflicted, he cannot appoint a commission of Inquiry in the matter.
– If the military did not act in terms of the orders from the Commander-in-Chief therefore he was supposed to take action on those members of the armed forces without any need for a Commission of Inquiry.
– If President Mnagagwa did not deploy the military, he was simply supposed to take action on whoever did, thereby acting illegally and in violation the Constitution.
– The proper procedure for appointing of the Commission was not followed which casts doubt on the legitimacy of its work and the outcome thereof. In that the President ought to exercise his powers through Cabinet in terms of the Constitution of which no cabinet was in place at the time of appointment of the commission.
– The police had already pre-empted the Commission by vicariously imputing liability on the MDC for uninvestigated actions.
3) The History of Violence
To those in the know, there is nothing new or surprising about the killing of innocent unarmed civilians by the state. The only difference is that the 1st of August killings happened in front of international cameras.
Zimbabwe has a long and perilous history of state sponsored, state sanctioned and state protected violence against civilians. The MDC and other civic organisations have kept records of these footprints of torture and brutality that Zimbabweans have had to endure.
At each and every turn, the State comes up with flimsy and unfounded allegations to justify harassing and killing citizens for political reasons.
We have seen this established culture from –
– The mass murders of civilians in Matabeleland in the 80s in what is commonly known as the Gukurahundi
– The cold blooded murder of democracy activists such as Tonderai Ndira, Tichaona Chiminya, Gift Tandare, and others by state security agents who are known but protected by the state.
– The shooting of Former Gweru Mayor the late Patrick Kombayi by known perpetrators who were later pardoned by the head of state Robert Mugabe.
– The brutal daylight attacks of many democratic movement leaders including MDC President Nelson Chamisa.
– The mass and brutal killings of civilians following the MDC electoral victory in 2008 which closely resembles the 1 August killings.
– The forced disappearance of democracy activists such as Itai Dzamara at the hands of the state.
These are just examples of documented state brutality. The 2008 killings in particular, again show how the state behaves in the face of Zanu-PF electoral defeat. There is nothing new about what happened on 1 August. History tells us that when Zanu-PF loses elections to the MDC, they employ brutal tactics by abusing state security agents to silence dissent and suppress the true expression of the people’s will.
4) The events on the 1st of August 2018
The people of Zimbabwe were quite expectant of a new bright era of transformation, opportunities and prosperity. That hope which culminated in a record voter turnout invariably caused anxiety when it became clear that results were not going to be announced in time to possibly allow for manipulation.
Ironically and for reasons best known to themselves, the Police were permanently stationed at our Headquarters throughout the elections.
What is quite telling is that the police present at MRT House on the day enjoyed a very cordial relationship with the anticipating MDC members gathered at their headquarters. Pictures and videos taken on the day cause an estimation of scores of people including excited and hopeful passersby.
The killing of civilians and demonstrations on the day in question happened in the full view of everyone.
The demonstrations took place under the watch of the police without any need for the use of force. Of course the MDC associates itself with the victims and commiserates with those who lost their loved ones in this sad event.
5) The Vanguard
It is clear through the constitution that there is only one army in the country and one police service in the country. These are meant to serve everyone irrespective of party, gender, ethnicity, race or class.
The attempt to paint of a military wing within the MDC is a step towards the State responding militarily to the opposition.
A lot has been said about the MDC Vanguard and that it is responsible for the killing of innocent unarmed civilians on the 1st of August. These are blatant lies and part of a narrative to cover up the evil machinations of the regime.
History tells us that when the state wants to destroy the MDC and democracy activists, it creates stories and blames them for all kinds of ills before unleashing instruments of terror. The MDC Vanguard was a non-violent peaceful youth group that was disbanded in February 2018 following a party decision to that effect.
There is no relationship between the concept vanguard and violence and neither was there ever intention that the Vanguard should be involved in any violent activities.
We must state categorically that the MDC Vanguard was not an armed group. It had no capacity to procure any weapons and neither did it ever have any intentions of having any weapons. Any blame on the Vanguard for the violence that took place on the 1st of August is once again part of this shameless cover up. The Vanguard no longer exists.
The Vanguard could not therefore have brought people into the CBD only to shoot and kill the same.
6) The MDC founding Values
There is also an idea that is being peddled at the Commission that the MDC is some kind of a violent terrorist Party. Again, the MDC reiterates the point that when the Zanu-PF government wants to decimate the opposition with state sponsored violence, it peddles serious allegations.
Since the MDC was formed in 1999 its main objectives were and remain to promote and advance human rights, freedom and good governance in line with Party character as outlined in article 4 of constitution that –
– The MDC is a pro-poor, people-centred social democratic, non-racial and non-sexist movement.
– The MDC is against all forms of violence and does not believe in the use of violence as a way or means of attaining any political, social, economic or religious objective.
– The MDC considers democracy as a core value, to that extent, its policies are to be determined by its membership, and further, its leadership shall be accountable to the people.
– The MDC firmly believes in freedom of speech, freedom of expression and further, the free circulation of ideas and information within the movement.
Above all this the MDC believes in the smooth transfer of power through peaceful, democratic and constitutional means. That is why we have continued to participate in a series of blatantly manipulated elections as rightly reported by all credible observer missions. We have sought legal recourse when in fact it was illogical to do so. We have sought dialogue with our erstwhile oppressors. That has been the life and character of the MDC in the face of brutality of suppression.
Internally, any of our members who have been fingered in any activity that violates the core values of the MDC has been disciplined by the Party. There are numerous examples of such cases.
Pretending that the MDC is a prohibited organisation that harbours terroristic ambitions is absolute nonsense and must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
– The MDC is by far the biggest political party in Zimbabwe.
– The MDC control 28 out of 32 Urban Councils.
– The MDC has 88 parliamentarians in the National House of Assembly alone
– The MDC President received more than 2 million votes across the country and that is more than any other candidate for that matter.
– The MDC was in Government from 2009 to 2013.
– Despite winning elections that were stolen, the MDC has never resorted to any violent take over.
7) The nature of MDC Demonstrations
There is an attempt by others at the Commission of Inquiry to try and attribute the demonstrations of the 1st of August to the MDC. For the avoidance of doubt, the MDC would like to make it clear that the Party did not organise any demonstrations for the 1st of August.
Equally so, it is undeniable that the young and urban people of this country see their future under an MDC government. Most importantly, it is common sentiment that Zanu-PF was working with ZEC to manipulate the election. Therefore the people who would demonstrate would invariably be those that are tired of poverty and oppression and therefore associating themselves with the MDC vote.
When the MDC organises demonstrations a certain process is followed –
– The organ that wants the party to demonstrate proposes the issue through the Secretary General’s office
– The Secretary General tables the matter before the standing committee
– In some cases the issue goes up to the NEC and the NC
– When a decision is taken by the Party it is referred to Party administrators to address the administrative issues which includes notifying the police
This is a rigorous internal process. No single individual gathers people for a demonstration in the MDC. That is why:
– Our demonstrations are always peaceful
– They are attended by hundreds of thousands yet not even one flowerbed is trampled on
– Party leadership always lead from the front
– No one is injured
– No property is destroyed
In this sense, it is mischievous and largely dishonest to ascribe the few hundred demonstrators of the 1st of August to the MDC. When the MDC demonstrates, it does so after following through a rigorous internal process. There is always public notification and meticulous organising.
In fact, the MDC through its Secretary-General, had warned of possible spontaneous reactions if ZEC would not urgently release results which were already in its possession. It is therefore clear that the main cause of the demonstrations was the anxiety that was created by ZEC’s failure to manage the electoral process to the satisfaction of the electorate.
8) Section 59 Rights and the MDC’s commitment to peace
After all is said and done, it must not be forgotten that the people of Zimbabwe have rights enshrined under the constitution. Section 59 of the Constitution clearly states that “every person has the right to demonstrate and to present petitions …”
The MDC is committed to holding authorities accountable to the dictates of our Constitution and the law. In view of this, we are committed to exercising our democratic right to demonstrate in a peaceful manner as required by the constitution.
We are the agents of peace, we have always shown. We will continue to pursue our peaceful and democratic means to end the oppression and suffering of our people, regardless of the lies and mechanisations of this Commission of Inquiry.
9) Commission of Inquiry Testimonies
We have followed the testimonies presented at the Commission of Inquiry. Although the Party maintains its reservations about the legitimacy of this Commission of Inquiry, we have certainly been moved by witnessing the most untouchable State officials appearing before the Commission despite earlier signs of resistance.
One thing we must all learn going forward is that no one is above the law.
However, the wanton and shameless lies by full grown and respectable men and women we have witnessed shows that Zimbabwe has a serious dearth of leadership.
– The bare denials by the army Generals that soldiers did not shoot civilians is shocking.
– The lie that civilians had already died before the military arrived is sad.
– The fabrication that the MDC youths are armed is absolute nonsense.
– The narrative that the kneeling soldier who was slapped by his superior was shooting into the sky at 45 degrees is quite embarrassing.
– The further narrative that he was being slapped to shoot from a standing position assumes that Zimbabweans are stupid.
– The estimation that there were about 25 000 demonstrators betrays logic.
– The narrative that demonstrators shot civilians with rifles is nonsensical.
10) Relationship between the MDC and State institutions
The MDC wishes to clarify an important issue regarding its existence and the agenda thereof. The MDC is a democratic political party in terms of the laws and the constitution of Zimbabwe.
The Party participates in elections to occupy the democratic space and offer the people a new democratic order with transformation opportunities and prosperity.
The MDC was not formed to fight State institutions. In fact, we are always cooperative with all State institutions including institutions such as ZEC that have shown bias in total disregard of the law and the constitution. After all, we are already in government by virtue of our presence in Parliament and the fact that we control the majority of local authorities in the country.
We report all our cases to the police. We approach the courts of our land for legal recourse.
No terrorist organisation holds rallies and campaigns.
When we participate in elections, we do not do so to fight state institutions such as the army, the police and others. We do so to compete against other political parties to sell an alternative agenda to the people. State institutions exist beyond political parties, therefore there is absolutely no ground for the cat and mouse relationship between the MDC and state institutions.
State institutions are there to serve the people not to work against the people. They must be prepared to accept the people’s will and not conflate themselves into political formations lest they become instruments of political repression.
Most importantly, the propaganda that the MDC seeks to negate the gains of our liberation struggle is an old and discredited story. We are the solution to the challenges facing this country. It is only the MDC which seeks to preserve he freedom and independence inherited from our forefathers.
We are not trying to fight the army or the police or the judiciary. We are competing for political space to provide the country with better political leadership.
The MDC would like to clearly state that it is a non violent party which wants to take power through peaceful and democratic means. It has always pursued dialogue in resolving key national issues. It has laid out its national programme through a five point plan. The MDC feels vindicated as the world gets a first-hand account of our crisis.
It is the people who are sovereign.
Behold the New. Change that Delivers!