Twenty COPAC Meetings Abandoned

Police had to fire gun shots in the air to quell violent clashes at a Copac outreach meeting at Bumhira Primary School in Nyanga after suspected Zanu (PF) supporters had gone on a rampage attacking people who were participating at the outreach meeting.

But surprisingly the police did not arrest any of the suspected Zanu (PF) supporters who were believed to be behind the disturbances at Bumhira Primary School.

The police, instead, arrested an MDC-T activist in Nyanga, Samunda Bvuma, accusing him of being behind the violence. They accused him of assaulting a Zanu (PF) supporter, Martin Njanji.

Sources who witnessed the disturbances said Njanji was, in fact, spearheading the attacks on MDC-T members and villagers opposed to the Zanu (PF) line in the constitution-making process in Nyanga.

There was more violence at Manjoro Primary School in the same district as suspected Zanu (PF) supporters descended on an outreach programme and beat up MDC-T supporters forcing the abandonment of the meeting.

Most of the aborted meetings were in Nyanga, Chipinge and Chimanimani.

The abandonment of outreach meetings means most villagers in the affected districts will not have their inputs in the blue print document.

Violence is escalating in Manicaland Province with Zanu (PF) supporters, war veterans and soldiers in civilian clothes moving around assaulting and intimidating villagers into supporting the Zanu (PF) line.

Villagers that participate at outreach meetings and make contributions that are deemed to contradict the Zanu (PF) line risk being assaulted.

Patrick Chitaka, the MDC-T chairman in Manicaland said it was impossible to hold Copac meetings in most parts of the province because of the violence.

“At another centre Copac officials and officials from the MDC had to run for dear life as known soldiers in civilian clothes and Zanu (PF) activists charged at them intending to harm them,” Chitaka said.

 “We made a hasty escape from the centre and abandoned the meeting.”

Chitaka said Zanu (PF) were not genuine in the constitution-making process.

“We thought we were going to finish the outreach programmes without any violence but we are shocked with the reports of violence that we are getting from Nyanga”, said Chitaka. “We now don’t know if our colleagues in Zanu (PF) are being earnest when they say they want a new constitution.”

But the Copac co-leader in Manicaland, Monica Mutsvangwa blamed the MDC-T for the abandonment of the outreach meetings saying Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party was “politicising the process.”