High Court asked to order army out of rural areas


General Constantine Chiwenga, to withdraw soldiers from rural.
 
  HARARE - Prominent lawyer and opposition politician Eric Matinenga has filed an urgent High Court application to force Zimbabwe's top military commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, to withdraw soldiers from rural areas where they have allegedly committed violence and human rights abuses.

 Advocate Matinenga, who is the opposition Movement for Democratic Change MDC) party’s Member of Parliament-elect for the rural Buhera West constituency, wants the court to order Chiwenga to stop the militarisation of rural areas and that he should instruct his men to stop harassing and assaulting opposition supporters.

 There was no need for Chiwenga, who is Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, to deploy army units in rural areas in this time of peace, Matinenga said in an affidavit to court.

 This is an application which is being made on an urgent basis following the occurrence of certain disturbances, Matinenga said in his affidavit. The Zimbabwe National Army is in full control and is harassing civilians for the simple reason that they voted for the MDC and not ZANU PF.

 The matter is yet to be sat down for hearing.

 Political violence broke out in many parts of Zimbabwe almost immediately it became clear that the MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai had defeated President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party in the March 29 polls.

 The MDC, Western governments and human rights groups have accused Mugabe of unleashing ZANU PF militias and the army to beat and torture Zimbabweans into backing him in a second round presidential ballot on August 2.

 Political analysts see violence – that the MDC claims has killed 32 of its supporters to date – picking up as the country approaches the run-off election that is being held because Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the March poll but failed to garner 50 percent of the vote required to takeover the presidency.

 Matinenga described the level of army violence and intimidation in his Buhera West constituency as shocking, citing as an example one incident when a senior army officer told terrified villagers that he stood to be promoted to the rank of brigadier if he murdered 150 MDC supporters.

 I was shocked at the extent to which members of the MDC were being harassed, humiliated and beaten by members of the army, said Matinenga, one of Zimbabwe’s leading legal minds.

 Chiwenga was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

 However Matinenga’s application comes barely a week after an army spokesperson, Major Alphios Makotore rejected media and opposition reports that soldiers were spearheading violence against MDC supporters. – ZimOnline.

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