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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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