Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) is a well-trained and disciplined force, and reports on social media linking it to assaults and abductions of innocent civilians in high-density suburbs are false and meant to misinform the public, a Cabinet minister has said.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said Government was willing to deal with cases backed by evidence in which a soldier would have over-stepped his or her mandate of helping the police maintain law and order.
Dr Moyo said this in Harare yesterday while addressing ambassadors and international organisations accredited to Zimbabwe on the political situation in the country.
He said there had been reports of alleged abductions, beatings and raping of people by members of the security forces in response to a violent protest by MDC-Alliance, which left a trail of destruction of property and claimed six lives on Wednesday last week.
“We have heard that soldiers have beaten up people in Chitungwiza, Kuwadzana and Dzivaresekwa areas,” said Dr Moyo.
“We have fully investigated this and the head of Chitungwiza hospital has informed us that there were never any people who were formally detained in hospital.
“In fact, it only happened on the day of the violence on August 1 where 14 people who were also victims of the protest came in but for minor issues and went back. They were never detained.
“In Kuwadzana and Dzivaresekwa, Government is not aware of any beatings or abductions so far as has been reported. All what we are realising is that there is a lot of misinformation that is coming out from social media. It is not only affecting all of us here, but it is affecting certain perceptions, which are developing in certain areas.
“Let me assure you that the military of this country is generally a well trained and very disciplined force, which has operated for a period of almost over three months from November to about January 2018. At one stage it took over the responsibility of policing, it is well experienced in dealing with people and it will not indulge in that.”
Dr Moyo said any person with evidence was free to come forth to show that there had been a soldier who acted outside the law.
“But in the event that there is a rowdy soldier who obviously may be indisciplined we are prepared, with relevant evidence, to take relevant steps,” he said. “But what we are also witnessing is that there may be certain personalities who might be purporting to be soldiers and are not soldiers, that are going about imitating as if they are. This is what we are busy investigating.”
Dr Moyo said people ought to make a distinction of normal police operations of investigation of the violent protests that the security forces might be undertaking.
“Yes, they may be certain security or police operations, which are underway as a result of the death of six people, those normal police operations do not normally end up meaning or being interpreted as some kind of atrocities being perpetrated,” he said.
“There may be some people who are being sought, who are directly responsible and have been identified for specific offences on the day in question.”
Dr Moyo paid tribute to countries and international organisation who deployed observers to observe the country’s harmonised elections, which saw Zanu-PF garnering two thirds majority in Parliament, with its candidate, President Mnangagwa, beating his closest rival, Mr Nelson Chamisa.
“Their presence and that of international non-governmental organisation observers gave us joy in that the presence of the international community gave substance to our claim that we have nothing to hide,” said Dr Moyo.
With the conclusion of electoral processes, said Dr Moyo, Government will continue to re-engage members of the international community as it sought to rebuild the nation.
“The revival of the economy is the priority as we seek inclusive growth, which manifest in better livelihoods and better service delivery,” he said. “This is a peaceful country in which Foreign Direct Investment and foreign persons are safe.”
The dean of African diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo Ambassador Dr Mwawapanga Mwanananga requested that the diplomatic community be afforded an opportunity to congratulate President Mnangagwa.
“We as the diplomatic corps, we request that we be given an opportunity to congratulate the President,” he said. “He has been congratulated by other organisations, and we saw him receiving foreign observers, but we are here and we represent our Heads of State, if we can be allowed to congratulate him.
“We know running a State is not like running a tuckshop and all Heads of State may not have the opportunity to congratulate him.”