By Leopold Munhende
MDC President Nelson Chamisa on Thursday failed to turn up for commemorations organised to remember victims of the August 1, 2018 army shootings during ill-fated post-election protests in central Harare.
The commemorations were organised by Harare preacher and fierce rights defender, Bishop Ancelimo Magaya’s Zimbabwe Devine Destiny.
However, the event was attended by some MDC officials, among them, party vice president Lynnette Karenyi-Kore, spokesperson Daniel Molokele, MPs Prosper Mutseyami and Joanna Mamombe.
Chamisa’s lieutenants were also at a loss on whether their leader was still going to attend when proceedings went on without an opposition chief who has fronted the campaign against state brutality and other forms of citizen abuse by the incumbent.
“He is not being clear, one minute we hear that he is coming, the next we hear that he is not. So I cannot say with confidence that he is coming,” said a party official during proceedings.
The event, which was spearheaded by some religious leaders, was largely attended by some MDC supporters who were keen to meet the charismatic opposition chief.
On Wednesday, Molokele told journalists that Chamisa would attend the commemorations in honour of the six victims gunned down by the military during angry protests over delays in announcing election by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Chamisa’s conspicuous absence quickly brought back sentiments by the MDC official who said last year that those who took to the streets to protest an election outcome that had not yet been fully announced were “stupid”.
Meanwhile, the MDC leader on Thursday later released a statement bemoaning President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s insincerity in ensuring justice for victims of the shootings.
During the protests, bodies of the victims, Silvia Maphosa (53), Ishmael Kumire (43), Gavin Dean Charles (45), James Chikandira (21), Brian Zhuwao (26) and Challenge Tauro (20) were picked up at different spots across the Harare CBD following the shootings.
Dozens more were left nursing gaping wounds as a result of the shootings.
The shootings marked a turning point in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to charm a skeptical world that was beginning to give his fledgling administration the benefit of doubt following decades of a brutal rule by the Robert Mugabe regime.
Under Mugabe, Mnangagwa, who later became the ousted leader’s deputy, was seen as a key strategist in keeping the long serving leader in power, sometimes even resorting to open violence to keep Mugabe’s challengers at bay.
Mnangagwa is yet to come clean on his role in the country’s bitter post-liberation episodes such as the Gukurahundi massacres which killed 20 000, the 2000 land invasions which killed 100 according to MDC and the 2008 election violence in which the main opposition claims over 200 of its followers were killed in state sponsored violence.