Harare- Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General, Godwin Matanga has revealed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa deployed the army which later shot and killed six unarmed civilians on August 1.
By Margaret Matibiri and Fungayi Chimbindi
Speaking under oath at a public hearing for the Commission of Inquiry held in Harare on Monday, Matanga said he has evidence in writing that the president approved the military deployment while giving his evidence on what transpired on August 1.
The police chief indicated that minimum force was used against civilians and demonstrators as it was a state of emergency.
Six civilians were shot and killed on the day in question.
“Only the president has power to deploy the military to support the police.
“I did not expect the violence that occurred on the day in question but it was very clear that these demonstrators wanted to get into the State House. There was no time to meet and discuss, it was only time for action as the demonstrators wanted to raze down ZEC offices as well as the Zanu PF Headquarters.
“Some of the demonstrators were out of their minds as they were under the influence of alcohol as well as Bronclear. I still believe minimum force was used as we could have counted thousands of dead bodies if they had been reckless. If ever they fired their weapons, they did so in good faith. I was on top of the situation,” he said.
Matanga admitted that he commanded the army on the day in question after he had heard from intelligence that some demonstrators were trying to fight the army.
Mnangagwa set up the commission of inquiry into the killing of six people following military intervention in the capital two days after the July 30 elections.
The inquiry team which is led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe also includes British lawyer Rodney Dixon, counsel for Kenya’s government at the International Criminal Court as it tried to avoid charges against now-President Uhuru Kenyatta related to post-2007 election violence, Nigerian former Commonwealth secretary-general Emeka Anyaoku, former Tanzanian defence chief Davis Mwamunyange and Zimbabwean legal and political experts, political science professor Charity Manyeruke, a member of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Mnangagwa said the commission should finish its work in three months.
The killings shocked Zimbabwe after the peaceful July 30 election, the first after the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe in November.
The vote was considered as a pavement into a new era but the sight of troops sweeping into the capital, Harare, to disperse opposition protesters raised fears about the future and questions about who was in charge.
The police requested support from the military because protesters were violent revealed Chief Superintendent Alfred Ncube officer commanding Harare district.
“I requested support from the military because even if I had 200 officers it would not have been enough to contain the demonstrators,” said Ncube.
Commander of the Zimbabwe Presidential Guard, Brigadier -General Anselem Sanyatwe defended the footage of the a soldier kneeling with a firearm saying that he was ducking missiles which were being thrown at him.
“He took that position because missiles were being thrown at him .The rifle was being fired at 45 degree angle upwards.That is exactly what happened and our mandate was to clear the CBD and restore order,” he said.
He alleged that the MDC had bused a “hard core” group of protesters from Kuwadzana and other high density areas.
He further alleged that some of the protesters were “not civilian men” and there was high likelihood that they could have been army deserters.