Legal and Parliamentary think-tank, Veritas has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime of failing to implement recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission by allowing the continued deployment of soldiers who are being used to enforce the Covid-19 lockdown.
Mnangagwa had to set up the commission in 2018 following a disputed election that resulted in the shooting of at least six civilians by the military during post election protests.
The commission found that the army was involved in the shootings and recommended that necessary prosecution be made. It also urged the government to desist from deploying the army to maintain order arguing that this was the mandate of the police.
In its recent bulletin, Veritas accused the government of not implementing the commission’s recommendations following the government’s deployment of soldiers to enforce the Covid-19 lockdown.
It also condemned the soldiers’ arrest of 12 MDC Alliance officials in Chinhoyi, on charges that they had gathered at the party offices in contravention of the lockdown regulations.
“Soldiers man roadblocks together with the police to enforce lockdown restrictions on movement. Soldiers are also deployed to patrol high-density areas and clear city centres. Their involvement in enforcing the lockdown has been institutionalised in regulations under the Public Health Act, which include members of the defence forces in the definition of ‘enforcement officer’, Veritas said.
“The delay (in implementing Motlanthe’s recommendations) can’t be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic because the legal reforms that are needed to democratise Zimbabwe and to implement the commission’s recommendations can be developed, drafted and passed by Parliament even if the country is in lockdown.”
Veritas added: “The pandemic has, however, been used as a pretext for ignoring the commission’s recommendation that soldiers should be called on to assist the police only as a last resort. As we have noted, soldiers have been manning roadblocks and helping to clear city centres during lockdowns.”
Recently, the United Kingdom slapped sanctions on Minister for State Security Owen Ncube, Central Intelligence Organisation chief Isaac Moyo; Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga; and Anselem Sanyatwe, a former commander of the presidential guard over their role in human rights abuses.
The move will restrict their travel to Britain and freeze their assets.