Senior commanders of the Zimbabwe army today insisted that the military that were deployed to restore law and order in Harare on 1 August did not shoot any civilians.
Six people were killed in the violence and the military has been blamed for using unnecessary force to end demonstrations by people upset by the delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the results of the 30 July elections.
ZEC had already announced the results of a number of parliamentary elections and had up to 4 August to announce the results of the presidential elections.
Some members of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance had already announced that their candidate Nelson Chamisa had won the elections.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa set up a seven-member commission led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe to look into the violence and report back in three months.
Testifying before the commission today Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe who was the tactical commander of the national reaction force that was deployed to restore law and order in the city after police asked for assistance to control the demonstrators said his troops had instructions to disperse the demonstrators and not to shoot any unarmed civilians.
He said this was a top heavy operation with three platoons commanded by very senior army officers.
Sanyatwe said there had been gunfire in the central business district long before he had deployed his troops.
A police officer who was guarding the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front offices in the central business district said he fired a total of 25 warning shots but the demonstrators who appeared to be drunk kept advancing until he had to seek refuge in the party offices.
Sanyatwe said the intelligence he had was that the MDC Vanguard could have been armed and was deployed into the city as well.
He said some of the demonstrators were not ordinary people because they kept advancing on his troops even shouting “bata soja” (apprehend the soldier) and “pfuti hadzina mabara” (their guns had no bullets).
Sanyatwe said this behaviour was typical of someone with military training because ordinary civilians would have run away at the sight of military vehicles.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief Philip Valerio Sibanda also insisted that the military did not shoot any civilians.