By Kenneth Matimaire and Moses Chibaya
Mutare, October 27, 2016 – TWO opposition MPs were Thursday assaulted by suspected Zanu PF supporters during a public hearing on Electoral Law Reforms being spearheaded by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Harare West legislator, Jessie Majome and Matabeleland South proportional representation MP, Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga were being accused of deliberately picking on opposition supporters for contributions during the abortive meeting.
About 500 people attended the consultative meeting organised at the behest of the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and 14 other civic groups who had petitioned Parliament to expedite electoral reforms.
The attackers, among them women, were also incensed when they saw other contributors handing some written submissions to the MPs.
Written submissions are also part of the opinion gathering methods being used by the committee.
During the disturbances, some youths started shouting unprintable obscenities, demanding to know the contents of the written submissions.
They charged towards Majome who had collected the written submissions and grabbed the documents.
The former Deputy Minister of Justice sustained scars on her left hand as she tried to protect herself.
Misihairambwi was also roughed up in the process.
“We were attacked by people who wanted to take away written submissions that had been given by members of the public who were attending the public hearing. They were shouting insults requesting to know what was on the written submissions,” Majome, who chaired the meeting, told RadioVOP.
“It was actually because of those written submissions that I was attacked.
“I have suffered injuries … they blocked others from expressing their views.”
Majome said they were still open to receiving the written submissions from people in Mutare at a later stage.
She said as parliamentarians, they were not going to be deterred from collecting the views of other peace loving Zimbabweans keen to see free and fair elections in their country.
Misihairambwi-Mushonga, on her part, said it was clear the Thursday skirmishes were planned.
“It’s clear by the way these youths were coordinating themselves that this was planned. They were bussed here by a local MP and it’s very unfortunate that an MP can be an architect to stifle the will of democracy,” she said.
The two legislators have since filed a report at Dangamvura Police Station.
The disruption in Mutare follows a similar incident at Nyamakwere Hotel in Mutoko on Wednesday.
The ERC said it was “gravely concerned by the growing trend which is a clear indication of deliberate efforts to disrupt the ongoing public hearings aimed at soliciting public input towards alignment of Electoral Laws with the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.
“It is the hope of the ERC that the success of this process would be a first step towards constitutionalism, credible elections and the creation of a level playing field in electoral processes. However, some political parties who have for a long time benefitted from the status quo are clearly against these efforts of improving electoral processes in the country.
“Zimbabwean citizens must be allowed to freely express themselves and contribute towards the holding of free, fair and credible elections,” the ERC executive director, Tawanda Chimhini said.
He added, “Furthermore, the attacks on parliamentarians must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable and perpetrators must face the full wrath of the law.
“Violence, whatever form, encroaches upon Section 52 (a) of the Constitution which guarantees the right of every person to freedom from all forms of violence from public and private sources. All citizens, state and non-state actors, have the right to participate and input their views on the electoral reform process freely without fear.”