By Staff Reporter
ZRP Chief Godwin Matanga said Wednesday that he was in charge of military units deployed in Harare after violence rocked the capital but refused to say whether or not the soldiers shot three protestors dead.
Addressing a press conference late Wednesday night together with home affairs minister Obert Mpofu, Matanga said he had caused the necessary constitutional provisions to be invoked for the military to come to the aid of the police.
This was after opposition protests against results of Monday’s elections escalated into violence and vandalism with vehicles torched while an attempt was made to storm the offices of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and its national election command centre.
Riot police supported by the military swept into central Harare with the latter shooting to disperse the opposition protestors.
Matanga said the soldiers were under his command and denied ordering them to shoot to kill.
He also refused to confirm the soldiers had killed the three protestors.
“I’m not yet aware who is responsible for the killings; now you are telling me that the army has killed people. It’s too early for me to say that.
“I’m still investigating, will respond when the time comes,” he said in response to questions.
Explaining why the police had summoned the military’s help the ZRP commissioner general said most police officers were still deployed away from their normal duties due to the elections.
“When the voting time started the ZRP deployed 71,000 officers who are still out in their areas of patrol and as we were observing and monitoring the situation I was convinced that with the number of people who were walking the streets it was going to be out of control if I had not invited my colleagues from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF).
“So, then I started to make sure that the processes were done, and the authority was granted. They are with me; I’m in command right now until the situation goes back to normal.”
He added; “I can only release the military when the situation comes back to normal. As long as the situation remains like this, I will not send the military away.”