Constitutional Outreach Meeting Suspended In Masvingo

MDCT- T youth chairman for Bikita David Hollman’s homestead was burnt on Friday night after war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda addressed a rally in the area.

Sibanda allegedly warned MDC-T supporters that war veterans would repeat what they did in June 2008.

The former liberation fighters unleashed an orgy of violence after President Robert Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential elections in March to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai who is now a Prime Minister in the inclusive government was forced to withdraw from the run off off poll on June 27 leaving Mugabe to run alone.

Zaka Central MP, Harrison Mudzuri (MDC-T) said they believed the people who burnt Hollman’s home were linked to the war veterans.

He said Sibanda used inflammatory language and issued threats against MDC-T supporters.

“As  we speak he is addressing a rally a few meters from where a COPAC outreach meetings was supposed to take place,” Mudzuri said in a telephone interview from Bita.

At least 10 meetings had been scheduled for Masvingo on Saturday and they were all cancelled.

COPAC co-chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the developments revealing that Sibanda had been ordered to leave Masvingo.

 “The teams on the ground feel that the atmosphere obtaining at the moment because of Sibanda’s presence is not conducive for them to get free and voluntary comments from the villagers,” Mwonzora said.

Earlier in the week, outreach meetings were suspended in Manicaland after COPAC members from the two MDC formations stopped working after a rapporteur was arrested for alleged public indecency.

Kudakwashe Munengwa had alledgedly stripped naked following an argument with a Zanu (PF) MP.

War veterans are accused of trying to disrupting the constitution making process so as to delay imminent elections.

Meanwhile The Zimbabwe Prison officers based at Karoi and Hurungwe jails are under pressure from their seniors to support Zanu (PF)’s position paper during the outreach constitution meetings to be held in the area.

Prison officers who spoke to Radio VOP at the weekend here, on condition that they were not named, said the directive came from the chief security officer Chief Supt Chihobvu who covers Mashonaland region under which both Hurungwe and Karoi prisons are administered.

‘’Chief Supt Chihobvu gave the directive that we must all attend outreach programmes in our wards and support Zanu (PF) position paper that demands recognition of war veterans, two presidential terms for five years without Prime Minister in the government. The president must be a war veteran, ” said a source based at Hurungwe prison farm.

The officers were forced to sneak the Zanu (PF) position papers to the prisoners. They said they feared to spill the beans to COPAC for fear of victimisation.

The Zimbabwe Prisons are headed by Paradzai Zimhondi who is among top security chiefs who said they would not recognise any leader without war credentials ahead of the 2002 presidential elections  in reference to Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

However, human rights defender and lawyer Alec Muchadehama, said it was unfortunate that the constitution making process had been ‘’hijacked by politicians’’

‘’Everyone must be free to contribute what they want and the civic society should have taken a leading role so that everyone could air out their views without fear’’ said Muchadehama.

‘’Constitution must reflect what people really want and not being forced to say what political parties want’’ added Muchadehama.

A new constitution is expected early next year leading to fresh elections.