Tense Atmosphere As War Veterans Take Over Copac Press Conference

The war veterans were also accusing Copac of deliberately delaying the completion of the constitution making exercise to enjoy lucrative allowances they were allegedly being offered.

The press conference, which was held at the Copac offices in Harare’s low density Milton Park suburb, was open to all stakeholders.

The war veterans also threatened to beat up the co-chairpersons accusing them of looking down upon the rural folk who thronged the outreach centres because of their educational inferiority.

One war veteran accused Copac of circulating a press statement that had not been signed.

“Atidi kutambiswa bhora rechikweshe panapa (stop taking us for a ride),” he said.

“Look at me. I am 63 years of age. My greying hair is a sign that I am older than you,” said another war veteran to MDC-T Copac co-chair Douglas Mwonzora, ” Please don’t take us for granted. We fought to liberate this country so that you can sit on that chair and tell us what you want.”

So tense was the atmosphere that even journalists who attended the Copac briefing refrained from asking questions.

 A member of the civic society, the only person who gathered courage to ask a question, was shouted down by the angry war veterans who said his contributions were not valid because he did not have an idea of how bitter the liberation struggle was.

One woman who identified herself as Josephine Gandiya from the War Collaborators Association accused the Copac co-chairpersons of delaying the process.

“Hamudi kuti zvipere nekuti murikudya (you don’t want this to end because you are benefiting financially),” she said.

For the better part of the hour long press conference, MDC-T politician Jessie Majome, who was chairing the briefing and the other Copac co-chairpersons took pains to explain to the agitated former fighters the process was still ongoing and was a reflection of the views of the majority.

“We do not seek to delay this process because this is a hot seat I can assure you. Who would want to be subjected to such accusations and threats all the time? We have our own jobs and would indeed want this to end. Please bear with us. We are trying our best,” said Zanu PF Copac co-chairperson Paul Mangwana.

Friday’s fiasco happened hardly two days after hordes of war veterans again stormed Vumba Mountains where the Copac technical team has retreated for the drafting of the final document and demanded the halting of the process.

Meanwhile, during his main address, MDC-T copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora said the drafting process was on going and that the three drafters have since submitted four chapters for review.

“Any judgement of these preliminary chapters is therefore premature as the Select Committee itself is seized with deliberating upon these drafts during which process they are subject to changes and continuous development until they reach the final form,” he said.