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Army Shooting: VP Chiwenga 'Exonerated' for Aug 1 Shooting

Harare - Vice President Constantino Chiwenga whose name had been implicated in the August 1 post-election shooting after High Court judge...

Harare - Vice President Constantino Chiwenga whose name had been implicated in the August 1 post-election shooting after High Court judge Justice David Mangota, ruled that the former Defence minister deployed the soldiers, who killed seven civilians in Harare’s central business district, has been cleared after Soldiers denied opening fire.

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.

Judge 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.

The Zimbabwean Army denied claims that it killed civilians during an operation aimed at restoring order in Harare’s central business which led to the death of six people and damage to property on August 1, it has emerged.

Testifying before the commission, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Phillip Valerio Sibanda said their troops had clear instructions not to open fire against the rioters.
Soldier Assaults a Civilian in Harare 

“Firstly, as soldiers, we operate on orders and the orders given on that day were very clear – you don’t open fire on the rioters,” he said.

“If there is anyone with evidence to the effect that anyone of these (killed) six and the injured could have been shot by soldiers, they can bring that forward. I am aware that there were reporters who were following the troops when they were deployed in town. 

“Certainly from where I sit, I do not believe that any of the soldiers fired. Yes, they fired in the air but I do not believe any could have aimed shots at the civilians.

“We would have been very foolish as the Defence Forces to give orders to the troops to open fire on the civilians with all these people (election observers and foreign journalists) in the country. We would have been out of our minds to give such an order.”

Gen Sibanda said if the troops had opened fire on the rioters, many could have died.

Said Gen Sibanda: “The troops were given orders to advance and not to take kneeling positions. Whilst that fellow was opening fire, he must have been warning the rioters because if he had aimed at them, we could have more deaths in that area,” Gen Sibanda said in reference to a widely circulated video clip that showed a soldier in a kneeling position.

He said the force applied by the National Reaction Force was commensurate with the prevailing situation in Harare’s CBD.

“When we do an estimate of a situation, you look at how best you can deal with the situation in the shortest possible time and in this particular case with minimum force, damage and loss of life. We looked at that and we believed that the force that was eventually deployed by the commander of the National Reaction Force was appropriate and the weaponry was appropriate in the sense that you cannot deploy a soldier without his equipment,” he said.

“It might not have been appropriate in the sense that they were carrying an AK47 as opposed to maybe a weapon that can take rubber bullets. But otherwise, the force that was used and so on was appropriate in my view because as you notice it was only one and half hours and the city was also back to normal except that there were no people because of what had happened.”

Gen Sibanda said some soldiers were pummelled by the rioters using stones and other missiles but that was not enough justification to open fire against the rioters. - Online Sources 

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