CIVIC society organisations (CSOs) and opposition political parties yesterday challenged President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa to take responsibility for the fatal shooting of seven civilians by soldiers deployed to quell MDC Alliance protests two weeks ago, and order the trial of the soldiers responsible for the fatalities.
This came after Mnangagwa, in his Defence Forces Day speech on Tuesday, sought to absolve the soldiers of any wrongdoing and blamed MDC Alliance leaders for the bloodbath.
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda described Mnangagwa’s remarks as reckless and likely to drive away potential investors.
“Since the election, this President has made various mistakes and taken oversimplified positions exposing a worringly weak or absent governing philosophy and a complete disregard for the intricate fundamentals of the Office of the Presidency. These include one mistake a day in the last week, which exposed a growing concern about his levels of competence in the office he currently occupies,” Sibanda said.
“He started the last week with the unfortunate statements about influencing the legal system. This, in itself, threatens the economy as no foreign investor would want to invest in a country where the President mistakes him or herself for the law. He capped two days with allowing the police to threaten and attack journalists, something that is unheard of and is not allowed in most countries on earth.”
Sibanda said foreign investors only flocked to countries where the rule of law subsists.
“ED is advised to use his pulpit as an opportune moment to reflect on a tragedy that happened under his watch and find a lasting solution to get the ZDF [Zimbabwe Defence Forces] to discharge its constitutional obligation to protect Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans and stay out of partisan politics.”
Sibanda said Mnangagwa should not pass blame to his subordinates.
“Leaders do not use tragedies divisively, in fact, they use them to find the nation, take their time to work to rebuild, unite and find consensus in order to move the country forward. To try and spin these murders, wherein the Presidential Guard (the President as the instructing authority) was caught with its hands on the trigger is unfortunate and unwarranted,” he said.
Habakkuk Trust director Dumisani Nkomo also slammed Mnangagwa’s statements.
“Now nobody is taking responsibility for the [seven] people that died. The opposition can be blamed for arson, but the State must take responsibility for those that were shot. We expect an apology from the army and government and somebody somewhere must resign,” Nkomo said.
Shalom Project Trust director Anglistone Sibanda said: “The people would recall that these are not the first killings by the junta. People were reportedly killed during the coup [that forced Robert Mugabe out] and killing is not anything new to them.”
Sibanda blamed the MDC Alliance leadership for mobilising people to protest.
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said it was unfortunate for anyone to expect Mnangagwa to condemn the military for the shootings, killings and torture saying he owes his Presidency to the military.
“If the protesters were breaking the law, you do not kill them, you arrest them. By infringing on their rights, the government is now the enemy of the people that it claims to be governing. The people are still waiting to hear him reprimand the military.”
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Fortune Mlalazi said the stance taken by Mnangagwa’s government was regrettable.
“Human life has never been sacred to Zanu PF, hence they are more worried about the property that was destroyed, a few Zanu PF cars which were purchased using proceeds from State resources. That is what they are worried about,” Mlalazi said.
“They have a good history in terms of Gukurahundi and other killings. Remember the murders that occurred in 2008, no one has ever taken responsibility, hence today, they blame MDC Alliance for less than 100 protesters that went on the streets, who if they were malcontents, they were supposed to be arrested, not to be shot at.”
#ThisConstitution leader Abigail Mupambi said it was sad that the nation had a President who sees nothing wrong with soldiers butchering civilians exercising their democratic right.
“. . . he has literary imposed sanctions on Zimbabweans by his failure to condemn the soldiers’ acts,” she said.
MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said Mnangagwa’s statement was irresponsible.
“The country needs honest leadership if we want to lure investors. The seven people were shot by soldiers and the nation expected an apology from Mnangagwa. The Zanu PF leader must learn to apologise, instead of trying to hide behind a finger,” he said.