Deployment of soldiers a violation of Motlanthe Commission: Gvt told

Soldiers armed with AK47s enforcing lockdown in Harare recently

By Lloyd Takawira

The government has come under heavy criticism from Veritas a legal and Parliamentary think-tank, for ignoring the Kgalema Motlanthe Commission recommendations by deploying soldiers to enforce the covid-19 induced lockdown.  

The legal think tank in its February bulletin said that the government has institutionalized  deployment of  soldiers across the country to enforce Covid-19 restrictions without informing Parliament a fundamental breach to the country’s constitution. 

In the same bulletin, Veritas exposed that despite the Monhlante  commission recommending that the military should only be deployed to assist the police as a last resort under extraordinary situations, government has institutionalized their deployment.

“Soldiers man roadblocks together with the police to enforce lockdown restrictions on movement. Soldiers are also deployed to patrol high-density areas and clear city centers.  Their involvement in enforcing the lockdown has been institutionalized in regulations under the Public Health Act, which include members of the defense forces in the definition of ‘enforcement officer…”

Veritas also said that the government is delaying the implementation of the Motlanthe’s recommendations deliberately under the pretext of Covid-19 pandemic.

However the legal think tank queried whether reforms that were recommended by  the commission’s cannot be passed by Parliament even if the country is under lockdown.

“The pandemic has, however, been used as a pretext for ignoring the commission’s recommendation that soldiers should be called on to assist the police only as a last resort.  As we have noted, soldiers have been manning roadblocks and helping to clear city centers during lockdowns”.

Following the infamous August 1 2018 shootings which left several people dead in Harare after riotous MDC Alliance supporters demanded the release of presidential election president, President Mnangagwa set up a commission to investigate the events.

Mnangagwa appointed former South African president  Kgalema Motlanthe to led the Commission.

The Motlanthe commission report together ,with many commissions reports have been argued to have become mere talk show gimmicks by the regime without being established.