High court orders soldiers in rural areas to return to barracks


A High court judge has ruled that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces should order
all its soldiers deployed in rural areas to return to their barracks,
according to a weekly independent paper.

The Financial Gazette reported on Thursday that Justice Chinembiri Bhunu

issued the interim order last Friday, following the filing of an application

by Buhera West MDC MP elect Eric Matinenga.

Matinenga had petitioned the High court to act against the deployment of

troops after the 29th March elections, saying the presence of soldiers in

rural areas, particularly in his constituency, was unconstitutional and

violated the provisions of the Defence Act.

Members of the Defence forces, aided by Zanu-PF militias and war veterans,

have caused mayhem in rural areas where they have displaced over 50 000

villagers from their homes. 50 MDC activists have also been killed in the

state sponsored violence that erupted after the elections.

Both the army and the regime deny the presence of soldiers in rural areas,

but Matinenga was able to identify serving soldiers who came and disrupted

his victory celebrations in Buhera West.

In his application, Matinenga, who was represented by Innocent Changonda and

Chris Mhike of Artherston and Cook, names members of the army and where they

have been deployed in his constituency.

‘On 13 April, 2008, I attended a victory celebration party in my

constituency. Members of the defence forces appeared and interfered with the

celebrations. I confronted them and one of them, who I believed to be the

leader of the group by the name of Major Sosve, told me that we were not

supposed to be hosting the celebrations. He told me that he did not

recognise and respect an MDC victory,’ Matingenga wrote.

The MDC claims it has information that about 200 senior army personal were

deployed in and around the country to campaign and mobilise for Robert

Mugabe.

A retired army Colonel Bernard Matongo, said while the court ruling looks

like good news he doubts the defence forces commander has the power to order

his forces out of the rural areas.

‘First of all it was an executive decision to order them into the rural

areas, so their commander-in-chief, Robert Mugabe, is the only one with the

power to order them back to the barracks. And I don’t see that happening

because he badly wants to win this election at all costs, even by killing or

maiming people. He doesn’t care,’ Matongo said.

SWRadio Africa

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