Police Commissioner General, Godwin Matanga has today admitted to ordering the deployment of soldiers who shot and killed six innocent civilians on the 1st of August but insisted he did so with the approval of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Appearing before the Commission of Inquiry into the Harare shootings, Matanga said he gave the final command to have the army deployed and was on “top of the situation” when the shootings happened.
“My understanding of the law is that the president did actually approve the deployment of the members of the defence forces to come income in support of the Zimbabwe Republic Police…” said Matanga.
Asked on whether he is the one who gave the final order for the deployment of the army, he said;
“I can’t run away from the fact that it was me (who ordered the deployment of the army). The deployment of the army was to make sure that these demonstrators would not run over the Rainbow Towers, which was accommodating the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) command centre…” added Matanga.
He said after the approval by the president, the ZNA was under the order of the National regulatory Authority.
“If it was on a normal operation, the ZDF was supposed to come down to the regulatory authority who was then Chief Superintendent Ncube who was given instructions but of course that process was not followed.”
Matanga admitted that proper procedures were not followed in as far as deployment was concerned due to insufficient time to consult other senior army chiefs.
“Time did not allow us to follow those procedures to advise his office (Officer Commanding Harare District, Ncube.)
“But I want to assure you that by the time I got the authority to deploy, my deputy in chief who is in charge of operations was airborne, he was in helicopter because we also wanted to get reports from someone who was in the air.
“I then communicated with my deputy who was airborne and that information filtered down to the officer in charge,” said Matanga.
He said the mere fact that most officers in charge were not in their offices, made it difficult to cascade most information to them.
He laid the blame on the MDC-T youth wing, whom he accused of possessing firearms used to kill.
“We have business people who are armed in the CBD and we have the members of the vanguard, whom we suspect must have been in possession of firearms.
Quizzed on whether the force used by the army was in tandem with the disturbances which were happening, Matanga said the force used by the army in dispersing the crowds was minimum.
“With all due respect to the deceased the actions of the police were justified and if ever the army fired, they did it in good faith,” Matanga said.
The commission of inquiry is on a fact finding mission to find out what transpired on August 1 and is expected to present its findings upon conclusion to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.