President Emmerson Mnangagwa did not deploy the military on 1 August during violence in which six people were killed but his deputy Constantino Chiwenga did, in his capacity as Minister of Defence and War Veterans, at the request of the Minister of Home Affairs, a judge said.
High Court Judge David Mangota said although Mnangagwa is the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, he did not deploy soldiers on 1 August and he there did not violate the country’s constitution.
He said this in response to an application by Allison Charles and the Counselling Services Unit which sought the disbandment of the commission of inquiry into the violence which was established by Mnangagwa and is chaired by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Charles argued that Mnangagwa could not appoint the commission to inquire into his own conduct since he had the powers to deploy the soldiers.
Mangota said facts on the ground and at law exonerated Mnangagwa and that the unfolding of the events were as clear as “night followed day”.
“The circumstances of the events of August 1, 2018 unfold themselves in a manner which is as clear as night follows day. They run in the following order:
“(a) a commotion started in the central business district of Harare;
“(b) the officer who commands the district assessed the magnitude of the commotion as measured against the strength of the personnel which was then at his disposal;
“(c) he approached the Police Commissioner-General whom he appraised of what was obtaining;
“(d) the Police Commissioner-General approached the minister under whose supervision he operates;
“(e) the minister, in turn, approached his counterpart in the Defence ministry;
“(f) he, in turn, dispatched members of the defence forces who worked under the command of the regulating authority of the district of Harare……
“The above-stated matters expose the incorrectness of the applicants’ syllogism. They proceed on the premise that, because the Constitution confers power on the President to deploy, he deployed members of the Defence Forces on August 1, 2018. The correct position of the matter is that he did not…
“He, in other words, did not owe a duty to report to Parliament matters which did not arise out of the power which the Constitution confers upon him. His moral duty which arises out of what occurred on 1 August 2018 was/is to set up the commission of inquiry which he established on September 14, 2018.
“He remained alive to the fact that Zimbabwe and the world deserve a clear statement of the causes of the violence and the need on the part of the country to define as well as prevent such unfortunate occurrences in all future elections. The commission which he set up will, in the fullness of time, unearth those.”
The Motlanthe Commission was sworn in on 19 September and was given three months to complete its task.