MPs want liquid in water cannons probed

HARARE - Parliament has been urged to institute an investigation into the chemical composition of the liquid in water cannons used by police to disperse crowds amid fears that the liquid could contain harmful substances.

This came out in the National Assembly on Tuesday during a debate on a report on the regional workshop to promote ratification and implementation of the biological weapons convention (BWC) and implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) held in Tanzania in September.

Contributing to the debate on the report presented by Zanu PF MP for Makonde, Kindness Paradza, Kambuzuma MDC legislator Willias Madzimure suggested that Zimbabwe should immediately domesticate anti-biological weapons conventions saying the country could also be guilty of using chemical weapons.

“When war veterans were dispersed by the police as they attempted to hold a meeting, they came out complaining that the itching that they felt after being sprayed by water cannons resembled some of the chemicals that they came across during the war, so I suppose an investigation should have been carried out, and up to today, I think as Parliament of Zimbabwe, we must know exactly the components of the chemicals in that water that the police use to disperse people,” Madzimure said, referring to a 2016 event in which police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of war veterans planning a march on the ruling party’s headquarters at the height of a factional tussle over who should succeed then president Robert Mugabe.

Madzimure added that the country also needs to regulate the use of small weapons which are currently being used to commit crimes.

“On a number of occasions, we have seen people being shot on our streets and the last one was only two weeks ago when an innocent guy was shot in the CBD. We must start controlling the use of fire arms as Zimbabwe,” he said.

Zanu PF MP for Chegutu West Dexter Nduna weighed in saying global powers such as the US must be sincere in their anti-biological weapons stance.

“They need to self-introspect before they want to impose on smaller nations like Zimbabwe, the ethos and values of what they want to obtain in the global community,” Nduna said.

“The US, for argument’s sake, has imposed unilateral sanctions on Zimbabwe and there is an impediment factor in terms of adhering to some of these protocols and conventions that speak to the proliferation of weapons both of mass destruction and small weapons as has been alluded to by the former speaker”.

Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala (MDC) called on Parliament to support President Emmerson Mnangagwa in domesticating international treaties.

“These conventions are governed in terms of International Law and Zimbabwe is part and parcel of the global world,” Sikhala said.

“We are a member State of the United Nations and we have got international obligations that we are looked upon by the world for us to play as a country, which is the one confronting this House today.

“In both Houses, I do not think there will be anyone who will oppose the ratification of this Convention by this House,” he said.

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