Churches under the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny (ZDD) banner have called on the government to bring closure to the August 1, 2018, shootings and adhere to the recommendations of the Kgalema Motlanthe Commission.
In a keynote address at the Churches Convergence on Conflict & Peace (CCCOP) District Inspection Meeting held at Glad Tidings Church in Hatcliff, Harare on Friday, ZDD Executive Director Bishop Ancelimo Magaya said the perpetrators were to be held accountable.
“Zimbabwe has a history of violence that goes back to the pre-colonial era and as a church, we need to converse about it. In 2018, we almost had peaceful elections, but the demon of violence quickly overwhelmed. People were shot and killed in the Harare CBD on 1 August.
A Motlanthe-headed commission was appointed by the President (Mnangagwa). The report was produced and the President launched it, but the report is yet to be adhered to. As the Church, we demand the adherence of this report,” said Bishop Magaya.
Six people were killed and more seriously injured on August 1, 2018, when the army which was illegally deployed, used live ammunition to disperse opposition supporters protesting against what they said was an attempt by the governing ZANU-PF party to steal tightly contested elections. The army also ordered journalists covering the protests to switch off their video recording equipment and cameras.
The fatal shootings were triggered by protestors demanding the immediate announcement of the results of last year’s disputed polls which were narrowly won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa, who was declared the winner of the disputed July 30 vote, announced in late August that year a Commission of Inquiry to look into the post-election violence.
The commission, which was chaired by former South African interim President Kgalema Motlanthe, announced its findings in December 2018, recommending among other things that government pay compensation to the families of those killed and to those wounded, saying perpetrators needed to be held accountable. The seven-member commission also recommended that Pres. Mnangagwa should engage opposition leader Nelson Chamisa as part of a dialogue process perceived as key towards resolving Zimbabwe’s intractable political and economic crisis.
At the time, Pres. Mnangagwa had said he would “study the recommendations and decide the way forward” – but to date, none of the commission’s recommendations has been implemented.
Two years on, the soldiers who opened fire on protestors have still not been held accountable for their actions.
Last year, the government said it was reviewing the eligibility of only 35 cases for compensation amid growing frustration from aggrieved victims, who say the process was moving at a sluggish pace. Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Virginia Mabhiza told the Independent that a cabinet task force was set up to administer the compensation exercise, with the body assessing 35 cases, among other things.
Bishop Magaya said they were observing the developments as a church and that it was necessary that the government see to it that closure was made.
“As the church, we are concerned that Zimbabwe witnesses violent phases before, during and after elections. I appeal that the government zero in on the August 1 killings,” he said.
The meeting was attended by Member of Parliament Honorable Rusty Markham, church and community leaders.
Speaking at the same event, ZDD Projects Officer Elder Shadrack Chaparadza said the church was not a political party but was there guide politicians.
“Zimbabwe Divine Destiny or Churches Convergence on Conflict & Peace is not a political party. We have no intentions of forming one or supporting any. As the church, we are there to set divine parameters for our politicians,” said Elder Chaparadza.
Churches Convergence on Conflict and Peace (CCCOP) is a consortium of church-related organizations consisting of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA), Zimbabwe Divine Destiny (ZDD), the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJP) and Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum (ECLF).
The initiative, which also works hand-in-glove with National Peace & Reconciliation Commission and Zimrights, engages communities to foster peace at grassroot level.
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