Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture: GCIS
Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture: GCIS

A report by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe into post-election violence in Zimbabwe has found that the country's military used excessive force against protesters. 

Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa released the report from a commission of inquiry, chaired by Motlanthe, on Tuesday. 

Six people were killed on August 1 after a military crackdown on protesters that took to the streets of Harare as tensions mounted over alleged delays in release of poll results.  

Mnangagwa, reading from the report to journalists in Harare, said the firing of live ammunition at unarmed civilians was “unjustified”, adding there had been disproportionate use of force. 

"There was compliance with the relevant law as evidenced by the trail of communication between the relevant government authorities. However, the use of live ammunition directed at people especially when they were fleeing was clearly unjustified and disproportionate," he said.

The report found that use of sjamboks, batons and rifle butts to assault members of the public indiscriminately was also disproportionate.

“It is undisputed that six people died as a result of gunshot wounds and according to the evidence from the two major hospitals, 23 people were injured as a result of gunshots and one person of assault."

The report blamed the opposition, the MDC Alliance, for inciting violence, saying the conduct was preplanned.

“Having considered all the evidence, the commission found on a balance of probabilities that speeches made by political leaders, mostly MDC-Alliance, before and after the elections, heightened tensions and played a part in inciting some members of the public to protest. The commission noted the influence of inciteful speeches by the opposition.

“The influence of those speeches is evidenced by demonstrators reproducing in many cases word-for-word the language used at the rallies in their songs and speeches during the demonstrations.

“During the pre-election rallies, the MDC-Alliance had taken a position that if their presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa, did not win the election they would protest, a threat that they implemented,” the report said. 

However the report found that deployment of the military was justified.

The commission recommended compensation to the victims of the violence and their dependents.

Last month MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, who later testified in the hearings, blamed Mnangagwa for the shootings saying he should be accountable for ordering the soldiers in his capacity as commander in chief of the Zimbabwe forces.

Chamisa also said it was not necessary to set up the commission of inquiry, further accusing many of the witnesses who testified before it of being Zanu-PF activists lying to protect their party.