OPPOSITION legislators yesterday demanded President Emmerson Mnangagwa to clear the air on why soldiers have been deployed to patrol the streets alongside the police.
MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese raised the issue with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, saying section 116 of the Constitution read together with section 213 requires that Mnangagwa should have informed Parliament of the deployment of soldiers to carry out policing duties.
“The reason why I am raising this matter is because whilst the President has the authority to deploy the defence forces, I believe whenever that happens there is an obligation to inform the nation by the President, but from my recollection we have not been informed by the President of the need to deploy the defence forces,” Gonese said.
“I have no problem if it is done, but my worry is that the deployment must be authorised by the President and I believe it is something that must be done after due consideration and in that regard the nation must be informed from the highest offices, because what we have only had are pronouncements made by members of the Defence Forces and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) that they will be working together yet it is imperative for the Head of State to inform the nation of the need for soldiers to assist the police.”
Gonese said Mnangagwa could have notified Parliament and the public through gazetting a statutory instrument or even through a general notice.
Mudenda said he would engage Mnangagwa on the matter and come back to Parliament with an explanation.
Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu was also taken to task over the same issue with Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) asking if the police were now going to perform their duties professionally following previous reports of their heavy-handedness at roadblocks and during public demonstrations.
Mpofu said he would hold a meeting with the police today to discuss behaviour change and the ZRP corporate image so that there is mutual respect between police officers and the public.
“The fundamental role of the police is to ensure there is law and order and it will be in that context that I will deal with that issue which is very emotive, and I want to address that head-on to ensure that the police maintain their national status as a police service without compromising on their responsibilities. On demonstrations, there is a law which is supposed to be followed,” Mpofu said.