Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe (Pic. The Herald)

HARARE – Military officials in ZIMBABWE have dismissed reports claiming their soldiers killed civilians during violent protests that nearly shut down the capital, HARARE, on ONE AUGUST.

The Tactical Commander of the National Reaction Force, who is also the Presidential Guard Commander, says he was in charge of the military operations to reinforce the police on the fateful day.

Brigadier-General ANSELEM SANYATWE has told the Commission of Inquiry into the disturbances his troops only fired warning shots into the air, not at the rioting crowds scattered around the city.

He says the videos circulating in the media, showing a soldier kneeling on the ground and appearing to be firing at the rioters, are not proof that the military killed anyone on the day.

Brigadier-General SANYATWE emphasises the military details he deployed in THREE sectors in HARARE did not open fire to kill but to disperse the crowd.

He says the soldiers were under the command of high ranking and experienced officers who are aware of the rules of engagement, either during civil unrests or in real combat.

Moreover, given the fact that the soldiers were carrying AK-47 assault rifles, people would have witnessed serious carnage if anyone of them had fired into the crowds – because the gun has serious impact.

Violent demonstrators set Harare on fire (Pic. Agencies)

The army also says it cannot rule out the possibility that the SIX people who were killed in the ONE AUGUST post-election violence could be victims of a militant group in the MDC ALLIANCE.

Brigadier-General SANYATWE says the group, known as the VANGUARD, is violent and obviously includes trained former members of the national army and police, who are able to use firearms.

He says what also further shows his soldiers killed no one during the demonstrations is that a number of journalists decided to report the events while taking cover behind the military lines.

Therefore, the reporters should have been able to capture people falling from AK-47 bullets and bodies lying in pools of blood if the troopers really opened fire into the crowds.

Brigadier-General SANYATWE says he does not give much consideration to the video clip that has gone viral on social media, because no civilian has the guts to film such military operations.

The Commission, set up to probe the cause of the violence and whether or not the reaction by the military was proper, has also head the testimony of Defence Forces Commander General PHILLIP VALERIO SIBANDA.

Defence Forces Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda (Pic. The Herald)

He has accused the MDC ALLIANCE of preaching violence before, during, and after the 30 JULY General Elections each time they addressed their rallies, which led to the ONE AUGUST tragedies.

General SIBANDA says the opposition leader, NELSON CHAMISA, and his colleagues had planned to plunge the country into bloody clashes if they lost the polls; and when they realised they were losing, they sent riotous youths into the streets of HARARE on the day.

He says the police had to call for help from the military after the violent crowds, who were now burning and looting in a bid to shut down the city, had overpowered the law-enforcement agents.

General SIBANDA says members of the National Reaction Force had strict orders never to shoot at the demonstrators, and they never killed anyone.

He has also emphasised if the circulating video was authentic, the soldier shown kneeling and seemingly shooting into the crowd would have killed quite a huge number of people with such rapid fire.

General SIBANDA says anyone, members of the public, observers who witnessed the ballots, as well as journalists who covered them, who have evidence of his soldiers’ killing people, should come forward with it.

Despite having issued a joint media statement with the police to appeal to people with such evidence either vehicle number plates, names of soldiers, or anything, to furnish them with such information, no one has brought anything.

General SIBANDA also says he is disappointed that none of the many foreign observers, foreign journalists, and embassies, who witnessed the elections, ever denounced the pre-election opposition threats of violence.

Only THREE groups visited him, surprisingly to find out if the military would accept MDC ALLIANCE Leader CHAMISA if he won the presidential poll; to which he answered soldiers would abide by the Constitution.

General SIBANDA says the authorities are determined to find out the real architects of the violence as well as the killers of the SIX people, and the culprits will definitely be in police custody eventually.

The 2018 Post-Election Violence Commission of Inquiry in ZIMBABWE has interviewed a cross-section of people from mid-OCTOBER, but it is not likely to conclude its work soon – given the bulk of evidence the team has to consider before reporting./Sabanews/cam

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