PRESIDENT-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday sought to exonerate the military from the fatal shooting of seven civilians which occurred in Harare two weeks ago, when live rounds were fired on unarmed civilians, and, instead, blamed the opposition MDC Alliance for causing the bloodbath.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/XOLISANI NCUBE
Speaking during Defence Forces Day commemorations at the National Sports Stadium, Mnangagwa could not hold the military responsible for the shooting of the seven civilians, despite overwhelming video evidence that soldiers opened fire on protesters in the capital’s central business district, causing mayhem.
“I am, however, deeply concerned with the incidents of violence that rocked the streets of Harare at the instigation of some members of the MDC Alliance leadership, which subsequently resulted in the regrettable loss of lives, injury to persons and damage to property,” he said.
“On behalf of government, and, indeed, on my own behalf, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and relatives of the victims of the politically-motivated violence. We strongly condemn these barbaric acts of violence. Let me once again state that violence and intolerance have no place in the new Zimbabwe, in our Second Republic,” he said.
But MDC Alliance spokesperson Welshman Ncube immediately shot back at Mnangagwa, accusing the Zanu PF leader of uttering “nonsense” and failing to publicly apologise for his soldiers’ excesses.
“Even in war-torn countries like Syria or Israel, nothing like that happens. How does he blame the MDC Alliance when we did not kill anyone? Did we shoot at anyone? Do we have an army to kill? He is being irresponsible and untruthful. It is utter nonsense. Even in war countries like Syria, that does not happen. We expected him to apologise at least and do so unreservedly,” Ncube said.
The incident has also been widely condemned by the international community amid calls for Mnangagwa to bring the culprits to book and compensate the victims.
Mnangagwa said the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), which facilitated his ascendancy to power in November last year, had remained a source of inspiration locally and abroad since the country’s independence 38 years ago.
He said the ZDF had a constitutional obligation to protect the country and offer support to other arms of State security such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said national conscience should rise above petty political party idiosyncrasies.
“Whenever there is violence, from a national healing and reconciliation point of view, it’s not much about who is responsible for that matter, but how best such acts can be avoided going forward,” Rusero said.
“A country in desperate need of healing cannot waste time trading insults on who is to blame, but rather, how best we can heal as a nation going forward.
“As such, it is neither the wisest of the idea for the opposition to blame Zanu PF on the violence, neither is it the best of an idea for Zanu PF to emulate and trade the blame game.”