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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • COPAC circus comes to town
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    September 20, 2010

    In what could go down the Zimbabwean history as one of the most chaotic national processes ever witnessed, the COPAC convened constitutional outreach meetings held over the weekend were turned into circuses by some members of the outreach teams and ZANU PF supporters.

    Reports received by The Coalition from observers deployed to the ward meetings identified the following problems

    1. COPAC teams delayed commencement of meetings
    2. Publicity around the meetings was minimal with posters only hung up at the venues as opposed to high population areas
    3. There were high incidences of intimidation and violence instigated by alleged ZANU PF supporters
    4. Some COPAC officials were accused of misconduct which resulted in running battles among participants.
    Find below details of the meetings observed by The Coalition;

    Day 1: 18 September

    Chitungwiza District

    Vimbai School
    What started out as a peaceful and fruitful outreach meeting attended by close to 80 people, ended in chaos when participants failed to agree on whether or not dual citizenship should be allowed. While some participants wanted to vote, others were of the opinion that there should be a secret ballot or no voting at all sparking outrage. Drunken youths, believed to be from ZANU PF, began throwing stones at perceived MDC supporters accusing them of not belonging to ward 16 where the meeting was taking place. This resulted in the temporary suspension of the meeting, which was only reconvened after police interjections.

    Ndangariro Primary School
    At Ndangariro primary school a meeting was held from 1100hrs to 1500hrs .A total number of about 200 people attended the meeting which was marked by robust debates owing to the conducive environment. Participants took their time to deliberate on the land tenure issue where some participants were advocating for 99 year leases while others for title deeds. There was heated debate on whether every person born in Zimbabwe regardless of descent should be awarded citizenship.

    Seke District

    Seke High 2
    The Crisis monitor at Seke high 2 could not monitor the meeting as some Zanu PF thugs did not allow people whom they did not know to attend the meeting. The monitor insisted that the process was a national process and that everyone had the right to attend which did not go down well with the Zanu PF supporters who started assaulting the monitor. This incident happened in full view of three police officers who did not lift a finger to assist or apprehend the assaulters. The monitor had to leave the venue for fear that his assaulters would harm him further.

    Day 2: 19 September

    Harare North District

    Avondale Primary School
    The meeting was poorly attended with the majority of participants allegedly bussed. An observer at the meeting reported that a T35 Lorry carrying close to 15 youths was seen dropping them off along Aberdeen Road a few metres from Avondale Primary School. Similar concerns were raised by the Glen View Member of Parliament (MP), who was among the COPAC officials; Honourable Paul Madzore who identified one of the youths and questioned him on whether he had attended a similar meeting in Mabvuku. Although the young man denied the allegations, The Convenor team sought clarity from Hon Madzore who confirmed that he had indeed seen the young man at a meeting held on the 18th of September at a crèche in Ward 19, Mabvuku.

    The observer also reported misconduct by one of the Chairpersons, Retired Major Mhandu who interjected a participant who was proposing that war veterans, regardless of which war they fought should be referred to as military veterans. Mhandu then went ahead to say that the term 'war veterans' refers to people who fought the liberation struggle, a statement seen by observers as leading.

    Highfields District

    Zimbabwe Hall, Ward 24
    The meeting was marred by commotion and disorder resulting in rescheduling of the meeting to the 20th of September.

    The commotion began when participants began discussions around war veterans and land. During contributions, ZANU PF supporters, allegedly bussed from Harare South constituency argued that MDC supporters should not participate in the discussion because 'they did not participate in the liberation war'. During the meeting, so-called war veterans were advocating for their own Ministry which directly deals with their grievances and welfare .The demands of the war veterans sparked debate as other people were arguing that everyone took part in the struggle and as such deserves land regardless of political views. Owing to failure by the COPAC team to contain participants, the meeting was postponed.

    Glen View Ward 32
    The meeting was delayed by almost two hours and the proceeding did not go as far as question two as the participants answered all the talking points during the preamble. The fact the team had no hailer did not help the situation and participants ended up going to the front so that their contribution could be captured on camera. This did not go well with most participants as they could not hear what had been contributed and were also not amused by one team leader who was addressing the attendees as comrades. The participants started shouting their contributions such that the Copac team lost all control of the meeting and some members of Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee had to intervene. The three team leaders had a meeting with the JOMIC representatives in a bid to address the fallout to which a resolution to reschedule the meeting was agreed.

    Glen Norah Ward 28
    More than 400 people attended a meeting where the participants were contributing party positions. There was heavy evidence of coaching as people were saying the same thing and were clapping and cheering. During the progression of the meeting some participants argued that some people at the meeting were not from that area and this disrupted the meeting for more than an hour as the participants were identifying these people. On the 16th talking point where people were asked on what system of government they wanted people started shouting their responses and this resulted in the meeting being abandoned as many people became rowdy and disruptive and the meeting had to be abandoned.

    Warren Park
    The Meeting at Magamba Hall was attended by about 350 people, the majority being males. The meeting started around 11: 20 where as the people had arrived for the meeting two hours earlier. The people were frustrated by the COPAC team who did not start the proceeding when they arrived but sat in their vehicles and sighted that their equipment was malfunctioning and were waiting for technicians to attend to it. As the meeting finally kicked off nearly an hour later, it was discovered that Zanu PF supporters had been bussed from Muzarabani and had been housed at one aspiring Zanu PF candidate whose name could only be identified as Regina. One participant contributed saying that only war veterans and their children should be given land because their parents had fought for it and that those that supported MDC were traitors and would sell the land to foreigners. Another participant quickly rose to his feet and indicated that everyone had taken part in the liberation struggle and this led to fierce fighting between the two and almost all the participants joined in.
    Marauding ZANU PF supporters harass observers as COPAC suspends constitutional outreach meetings

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