HON. GONESE: Hon. Speaker, I rise on a matter of privilege. Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I will begin by saying that Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy. My matter of privilege is related to the provisions of our Constitution and in particular, I am referring to the provisions of Section 119 on the role of Parliament as read with the provisions of Section 213. Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you are familiar with the provisions of that Section but for the benefit of all Hon. Members, I will just highlight what the Section provides.
In terms of Section 119 of our Constitution, Parliament is obligated to protect this Constitution and promote democratic governance in Zimbabwe. Further to that, Parliament also has the power to ensure that the provisions of this Constitution are upheld and that the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level act constitutionally and in the national interest.
Having read the general provisions Mr. Speaker Sir, I will now revert to the matter which is of concern and that is in terms of Section 213; in respect of the deployment of the Defence Forces. It is clear in terms of that provision that the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces has the power to authorise the deployment of the Defence Forces or the power to determine the operational use of the Defence Forces.
Further to that, with the authority of the President, the Defence Forces may be deployed in Zimbabwe as follows;
a) In defence of the country
b) In support of the Police Service in the maintenance of public order or
c) In support of the Police Service and other civilian authorities in the event of an emergency or a disaster.
Mr. Speaker, the reason why I am raising this matter is because whilst the President has the authority to deploy the Defence Forces, I believe that when this happens, there is an obligation by the President, as Commander-in-Chief to inform the nation and from my recollection we have not been informed by the President himself of the need for the deployment of the Defence Forces. I have no problem Mr. Speaker Sir, if that is done in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. My worry is that at this point in time, and because that deployment specifically must be authorised by the Head of State. I believe Mr. Speaker Sir, that this is not something which must be done willy-nilly – it is something which must be done after due consideration. In that regard, the nation should be informed from the highest office in the land and this does not seem to have happened. What we have had Mr. Speaker, there are pronouncements which have been made by members of the Defence Forces and members of the Police Force jointly but I believe that, if we are to follow the dictates of our Constitution, it is imperative that the Head of State informs the nation of the need to have the Police Force to be assisted by the Defence Forces.
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