HIGH Court judge Justice David Mangota has implicated Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga in the August 1 post-election shooting, ruling that the former Defence minister deployed the soldiers, who killed seven civilians in Harare’s central business district.
By Everson Mushava
Chiwenga was the Vice-President in charge of the Defence and War Veterans ministry when the soldiers opening fire in Harare’s crowded streets, killing seven and injuring several others.
Mangota nailed Chiwenga, while dismissing a case in which Allison Charles and Counselling Services Unit had dragged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to court seeking the disbandment of the Commission of Inquiry led by former South Africa President Kgalema Motlanthe on the grounds that the appointing authority was conflicted in the matter.
Charles claimed Mnangagwa had the constitutional powers to deploy soldiers and could not set a commission of inquiry into his conduct.
But Mangota said Charles was simply “trying his luck” because facts on the ground and at law exonerated Mnangagwa and that the unfolding of the events were as clear as “night followed day”.
He said the claim that Mnangagwa was conflicted was frivolous and not backed by facts.
“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,” Mangota ruled.
“(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.”
Mangota added: “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 said Mnangagwa did not deploy the soldiers and thus did not violate section 214 of the Constitution.
“He (Mnangagwa), 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.”
He said a finding has been made to the effect that the first respondent Mnangagwa did not deploy members of the defence forces onto the streets of Harare.
Justice Mangota also defended the inclusion of University of Zimbabwe lecturers – Lovemore Madhuku and Charity Manyeruke. He said Madhuku had nothing to benefit or lose by being part of the commission.