News / Africa

Progress Over Zimbabwe's Constitution Disrupted by Zanu PF

Outreach meetings over a new Zimabawe constitution have been disrupted, some violently, by people loyal to Zanu PF president Robert Mugabe. The outreach program is drawing to an end with increasing numbers of public meetings abandoned.

Progress Over Zimbabwe's Constitution Disrupted by Zanu PF
Progress Over Zimbabwe's Constitution Disrupted by Zanu PF

At a meeting Monday on the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth school, near Harare's city center, members of the public came to voice what they wanted in a new constitution.

But Zanu-PF Party members disrupted the meeting and ordered two white Zimbabweans to leave, saying they had no right to contribute to any discussions on a new constitution. One of the whites said he replied that he was born in Zimbabwe. He said he and his wife were pushed and shoved and left the meeting.

In Harare and Bulawayo several other meetings were disrupted at the weekend by rowdy Zanu-PF members, some of whom threw stones at members of the public and shouted down contributions to the debate, according to people who attended.

One member of an outreach committee overseeing several of the gatherings, who asked not to be identified, said last weekend's meetings had been "horrible, and destructive."

There have also been disputes about the infrastructure of the outreach meetings, with people employed as drivers for the committee members saying they have not been paid and refusing to turn up for work.

Movement for Democratic Change Party legislator Douglas Mwonzora is co-chair of the parliamentary committee overseeing the constitution writing process. He said he was dismayed by the disruptions and violence, and said upcoming meetings have been postponed indefinitely.

The non-governmental organization monitoring the constitutional outreach program, Sokwanele, says many outreach meetings have taken place peacefully and constructively, but the overwhelming number of disruptions, including violence, were instigated by Zanu PF.

Sokwanele said that these disruptions were a gross violation of the two-year-old political agreement, which is the foundation of the inclusive government of Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change that is to craft a new constitution.

In statements made to state media controlled by the party, Zanu-PF leaders deny accusations party members have been behind most of the disruptions.

Elsewhere in Harare more than 80 members of Zimbabwe Women Arise group were arrested as they marched toward parliament protesting police mistreatment.

Group co-leader Magodonga Mahlangu said the women were holding a peaceful protest demanding the police act impartially, particularly at constitutional outreach meetings.

The Zimabawe political agreement calls for the draft constitution be put to a referendum. If accepted, new elections would bring the inclusive government to an end.

Veteran Zimbabwean academic, Brian Raftopoulos says he hopes the elections take place later, rather than sooner, because of the violence at election time during the past 10 years.

During 2008 elections, about 200 MDC supporters were killed and 3,000 injured by Zanu-PF supporters.

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