An opposition MP has demanded that President Emmerson Mnangagwa or Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri must explain to Parliament the deployment of the military across the country.

The issue was raised as a matter of privilege in the National Assembly last Thursday by Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya.

Chikwinya’s demands followed the heavy deployment of soldiers in Harare and Bulawayo last week where they blocked people from entering central business districts in both citify. In Harare, soldiers were allegedly deployed when the MDC-T faction led by Thokozani Khupe forcefully took over Harvest House from the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.

In Bulawayo, the same deployment was made soon after a press conference by Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, where he dismissed ‘rumours’ of a coup plot. But the government has said the presence of security forces was meant to enforce Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

“On a point of public emergency, after realising that the coronavirus pandemic had hit Zimbabwe, the executive responded accordingly and declared that it be a public emergency situation,” Chikwinya said.

“To that extent, soldiers were deployed to our communities and soldiers are deployed only in terms of section 213 of our constitution, which requires that the president must cause Parliament to be given the details of the deployment.

I, therefore, call upon you honourable chairperson to rule that we respect the provisions of section 214 that Parliament be informed of the details and the manner under which the soldiers are being found in our constituencies.

“That arises from the fact that there are now reports that there are activities being done by the men of the military which we want to interrogate either by the representative of the president or the minister of Defence.”

Acting speaker of the National Assembly William Mutomba, however, did not respond to the issue.

Section 214 of the constitution deals with political accountability for deployment of Defence Forces and reads:

“When the Defence Forces are deployed

(a) in Zimbabwe to assist in the maintenance of public order; or
(b) outside Zimbabwe; the president must cause Parliament to be informed, promptly and in appropriate detail, of the reasons for their deployment and —

(i) where they are deployed in Zimbabwe, the place where they are deployed;
(ii) where they are deployed outside Zimbabwe, the country in which they are deployed.”

Muchinguri was present in the House, but she did not respond to the issue.

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