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This article participates on the following special index pages:
New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
report - October 30-31
Election Support Network (ZESN), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
(ZLHR), Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) Independent Constitution Monitoring
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The Report trails
constitutional outreach consultations conducted in the metropolitan
province of Harare between 30 and 31 October, activities that were
resumed after having been suspended in September in the wake of
inter-party violence between the supporters of the two main rival
parties, ZANU PF and the MDC T.
backdrop, ZZZICOMP applauds COPAC for ensuring public safety by
deploying police to all outreach venues. Although the presence of
heavily armed and stern-looking police details may have created
a somewhat intimidating, subdued, somber and agitated atmosphere
at outreach venues, the semblance of sanity and peace that prevailed
enabled COPAC to successfully hold 51 of the targeted 52 outreach
meetings, with only one meeting that was scheduled for 31 October
at Gwinyai Government School in Ward 8 of Mbare of Harare Central
called off due to poor turnout.
the smokescreen of calmness, was a process that remained under the
tight grip of party politics and an operational environment that
was hardly inclusive and tolerant to participants with dissenting
views. The process was only inclusive as long as participants were
expressing views that resonated with the dominant political group
at the venue.
meetings that include St John Retreat Primary School in Ward 1 of
Mbare, St Peters Kubatana Primary School in Ward 14 of Mbare in
Harare South, Maguta Secondary School in Ward 1 of Epworth, Seke
2 High in Ward 20 of Chitungwiza Constituency, Tanganhamo Primary
School in Ward 7 of Zengeza constituency, Shingai Primary School
in Ward 2 of St Mary's constituency, Kambuzuma High One in
Ward 14 of Kambuzuma constituency, Greystone Park Primary School
in Ward 8 of Harare North; the political mood remained brittle,
temperamental and visibly polarised along party lines. Reports refer
to several incidents in which those expressing dissenting views
were booed, verbally threatened, heckled, silenced or even force-marched
out of outreach venues by the youths and supporters of dominant
groups at venues while the police and COPAC teams watched helplessly.
Contributions at most meetings reflected outright hate, mockery,
personalisation of national issues, and shocking levels of political,
racial and tribal tolerance-with some even carrying bizarre proposals
to kill those who support sanctions or act as fronts for white people.
The net picture is that had it not been the presence of heavily
armed and stern-looking police details at some of these meetings,
the risk of a replay of the ugly scenes of September hovered menacingly
in the air.
emerging from the Harare outreach consultations is an overwhelmingly
ZANU PF-driven process-with proposal that are heavily skewed towards
the now well-known ZANU PF position on the constitution. At St Peters
Kubatana Primary School in Ward 4 of Mbare, the process was overwhelmingly
controlled by ZANU PF that those who dare express views outside
the framework of ZANU PF were reportedly cautioned for "provoking
others" or their views dismissed as "no point"
by the partisan Honourable MP [name withheld] of the COPAC Team.
Thus, despite some effort by COPAC teams to ensure openness, debate
remained muted and overly exclusive to other stakeholders.
In fact, the
Harare outreach meetings were at best miniatures of political rallies
with party supporters instead of ordinary citizens as participants.
At most outreach meetings, people were organized and seated as distinct
groups, and expressing views laden with political connotations.
In most cases, what passed as "unanimously agreed proposals"
was largely one-party-dominated and engineered proposals in which
party supporters masqueraded as participants were speaking from
rehearsed and earlier-agreed positions of their political parties.
It is also instructive
to note that while an attendance profile of 46 "highly attended"
and 5 "lowly attended" cases is generally consistent
with the usually knowledgeable, attentive, and highly participant
nature of urban communities- close analysis of proceedings at most
Harare outreach meetings calls for caution as scenarios suggest
high possibilities of party-coerced gatherings. This is even more
suspect as the bulk of these high attendances were reported political
hotbeds areas that include St John Retreat Primary School in Ward
1 in Mbare of Harare South which had 1220 participants in attendance,
Hopley Clinic in Ward 1 of Harare South where 708 participants turned
up, St Peters Kubatana Primary School in Ward 4 of Mbare of Harare
South where there were 400 people in attendance, Glen View New Hall
in Ward 32 of Glen View South where 393 were in attendance, Hatcliffe
Open Space in Ward 42 of Harare North where 741 people turned up,
Harare High School in Ward 3 of Mbare in Harare South where 350
participants turned up. Incident of bussing of party supporters
were also rampant at these venues. Equally suspect at these venues
was the high incidence of "unanimity" cases on most
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