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mulls pulling out of constitutional outreach
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
July 23, 2010
In a hard hitting interview,
party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said it was now necessary for the
leadership to meet.
Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's MDC party will have to meet and decide whether to continue
participating in the current constitutional outreach exercise which
has been marred by incidents of violence and intimidation. In a
hard hitting interview, party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said it was
now necessary for the leadership to meet and 'say under the circumstances
what is our continued participation in this process. What is the
end and what is the product?'
He told Newsreel they
were receiving reports from their structures, and even from ZANU
PF supporters, complaining that they were being frog marched into
torture bases, and indoctrinated on what to say before being taken
to outreach meetings.
'This is very
ugly a picture, very disturbing a trend and very discouraging a
pattern. When one looks at what has been happening across the whole
country it's not as if people are being allowed to express themselves.'
He likened what was happening to the siege mentality that accompanied
the bloody election
violence of 2008, when Mugabe and his ZANU PF party lost elections
and sent out army units to murder over 500 opposition supporters
the MDC pull out from the outreach?
'Look I can't do that,
I have no power to make those kind of alternatives or permutations.
The leadership will look at these issues forensically and surgically
and come up with a position'. He said people are being turned into
robots and this had made the outreach a farce.
The constitutional outreach
program, meant to gather people's views on the new constitution,
has exposed the deep political polarization and intolerance that
still exists between ZANU PF and MDC supporters. Since the program
resumed this week, after a week long break, tension, friction and
shouting matches have characterized most of the meetings. Even signaling
your intention to contribute a view by raising a hand, has now been
politicized by the participants.
When MDC supporters want
to contribute to debate, they raise their hands as any other person
would do. And here lies the problem. An open palm is a gesture linked
to the MDC party symbol. In retaliation, ZANU PF supporters have
resorted to raising their hands- fists clenched- a style made popular
by Mugabe when sloganeering.
Our correspondent Simon
Muchemwa said it was clear there is still much animosity between
supporters of ZANU PF and the MDC. He said these incidents, and
many others being observed at the meetings, are clear indicators
of the dark cloud of political polarization and intolerance characterizing
the political terrain in the country.
'At times you witness
shouting matches when people try to put across their party positions.
This is happening in meetings mainly in rural areas where deep mistrust
among the supporters still exist, Muchemwa said. He said the program
is beset with administrative problems, ranging from lack of accommodation
to shortages of funds for outreach teams. Some COPAC members threatened
to down tools this week when they failed to get their allowances.
'There's a serious problem
out there and COPAC seems to be failing to cope with the crisis.
Some people are going hungry because they are not being paid their
allowances,' Muchemwa added.
There are a
total of 70 outreach teams, totaling 700 people, deployed countrywide.
They will spend two months gathering the views of the public on
constitution which will replace the negotiated 1979 Lancaster
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