Accessibility links

Zimbabwe Reconciliation Meeting Results in Chaos

In Zimbabwe, a meeting aimed at launching a process of national reconciliation has been aborted after chaos erupted over delegate accreditation.

Organizers of the opening meeting of Zimbabwe's Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration decided to postpone the gathering indefinitely because of disruption by several-hundred uninvited delegates.

Each of the three political parties in Zimbabwe's power-sharing government reportedly were to send 60 delegates to the meeting. They were to discuss the reconciliation process and return to their home districts to inform their constituents of the procedures.

The power-sharing agreement that led to the creation of Zimbabwe's unity government last year calls for reconciliation as part of a series of steps leading to a new constitution and national elections.

The accord followed months of negotiations after controversial and sometimes violent elections two years ago.

Under the accord, leaders of the two factions of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, became prime minister and deputy-prime minister in the government of President Robert Mugabe.

The government-owned Sunday Mail newspaper reported nearly 500 supporters of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party entered the hall and began singing revolutionary songs when asked to leave.

The spokesman for Mutambara's group, Edwin Mushoriwa, blamed ZANU-PF for the disruption.

"This was a well-planned, well-orchestrated program of action," he said. "And in the eyes or the interests of ZANU-PF they decided that probably it was to their best interests to disrupt the proceedings."

A delegate from Mr. Tsvangirai's party, Ellen Manyere, also blamed ZANU-PF.

"ZANU-PF is not sincere and is not candid in this national healing process," she said. "And this will take a mammoth task for some of us and ZANU-PF to actually sit down in new forums and come up with something amicable for the benefit of the Zimbabwean nation."

The chairman of the meeting, Vice President John Nkomo of ZANU-PF, tried to calm the disruptive participants, but eventually adjourned the meeting indefinitely.

Last year the first attempt to launch a conference on the new Zimbabwean constitution was disrupted in similar fashion. It only convened after intervention by the leaders of the three parties.