Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
President Mnangagwa yesterday notified Parliament of his decision to deploy members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to assist the police in the wake of riotous and unlawful demonstrations on August 1, 2018 and January 14 to 16, 2019.
The demonstrations saw lives lost and left a trail of destruction.
The notice was read by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi in the National Assembly in terms of Section 214 of the Constitution.
Section 214 of the Constitution read: “When the Defence Forces are deployed; (a) in Zimbabwe to assist in the maintenance of public order; or
(b) outside Zimbabwe; the President must cause Parliament to be informed, promptly and in appropriate detail, of the reasons for their deployment and;
(i) where they are deployed in Zimbabwe, the place where they are deployed;
(ii) where they are deployed outside Zimbabwe, the country in which they are deployed.
Minister Ziyambi said the deployment by the President who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was also made in terms of the Public Order and Security Act.
“The Commissioner-General of Police having satisfied himself of the riotous situation existing in all major cities and towns in Zimbabwe and having satisfied himself that the riotous conduct had violated the right to life, right to human dignity, right to personal security, right not to be compelled to belong to an association, or to attend to a meeting or gathering, right to freedom of movement, right to hold, occupy, use or dispose of property, right to freedom of movement, right to education, right to education, of ordinary citizens and residence as enshrined in the Constitution and having satisfied that the conduct of riotous was criminal in nature and recognised offences under the criminal justice system of the Republic of Zimbabwe and having satisfied that the Zimbabwe Republic Police was unable to contain the riotous situation as aforementioned which resulted in the loss of life, brazen violation of basic human rights, personal security and destruction of private and public property including police stations, the Commissioner-General in terms of Section 37 (1) of the Public Order and Security Act requested the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to use his discretion and request the Minister responsible for Defence to authorise the Defence Forces to assist the police in the exercise of their function in terms of the Act in order to suppress the violent, riotous and destructive conduct that was occurring throughout the country which conduct was undermining the rule of law and citizens’ rights as afore-stated,” read the notice.
“The Minister of Defence following upon the request and guided by Section 213 (1)(1)(b) of the Constitution which provides that only the President as Commander-in-Chief of the ZDF has the power to authorise the deployment of the Defence Forces in Zimbabwe to support the police service in maintenance of public order.
“His Excellency having duly considered the request and having applied his mind to the situation, authorised the deployment of Defence Forces to suppress the riotous and destructive conduct that pervaded the country.”
The August 1, 2018 illegal demonstrations were perpetrated by MDC-Alliance claiming that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had delayed announcing presidential results despite the fact ZEC was still within its five-day threshold to announce the results.