By Anna Chibamu
THE government is now aware of the identity of social media users posting false coup reports and the perpetrators will be arrested soon, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri has sternly warned.
She said the fake coup claims have caused unnecessary panic while the public had lost confidence in their government before she promised that justice would be meted out soon to the culprits.
The minister was responding to questions regarding national security issues before the Defence Parliamentary Portfolio Committee.
Zimbabwe has been gripped by social media reports claiming the country was on the verge of staging a military coup.
“I will not tell you what we are doing. I think on that one (coup rumours) l will reserve it for security reasons,” she told the legislators.
“We are dealing with it. We cannot share in case some might not want to post some items but we have to deal with it. We already have a bill to that effect on people who peddle lies particularly on the security situation of the country,” said Muchinguri.
Early this month, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe, addressed a press conference where he said MDC Alliance vice chair, Job Sikhala and former Zanu PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere were making unsubstantiated claims of an imminent coup in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, Muchinguri has dismissed as false reports that soldiers are assaulting people in communities they are operating in enforcing Covid-19 restrictions. She added her ministry was ready to investigate genuine complaints brought to its attention by members of the public.
“When you see our soldiers, they are carrying out their constitutional duties. We have not received reports of them harassing people in communities,” she said.
“Where we have redeployed our soldiers, we have Joint Operation Command (JOC) taskforces who have a responsibility to do checks and balances.
“You are also aware of the marshal courts which act as a deterrent factor to make sure such cases are minimal. We have a way of monitoring them. As for patrolling in communities, police are in charge and they invite us to provide law and enforcement order duties,” said Muchinguri.
“An isolated case cannot let people conclude that the situation is across the board. I know also of a situation where people want to portray a certain narrative and they act in a certain way. What we saw and our interpretation of a certain situation might not be what you project but we know, given our political situation,” she added.