Integrity of outreach under spotlight

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A human rights watchdog says constitution—making outreach meetings have been marred by chaos and incidents of politically-motivated violence.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said at Matepatepa Country Club and Number One Play Centre in Bindura, Zanu PF supporters were recently seen reading from prepared scripts allegedly written by their political party during the proceedings.
“Both meetings were characterised by high levels of tension between opposing party members,” Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said. “Outreach meetings continue to be marred by chaos and incidences of politically motivated violence.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is a grouping of more than 350 civil society organisations.
The coalition said it was concerned that if participants had to rely on ‘party-written scripts’ to make contributions, it was clear that people “are being denied a right to freely air out their views”.
The group said this compromised the legitimacy of the constitution-making process.
Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesperson, said the outreach programme was going on “very” well.
“As far as we are concerned the constitution—making process is going on well. We have not received any reports on intimidation and violence. Everything is going on course,” Gumbo said yesterday.
“The reports we are getting is that things are well and on course.”
The coalition then turned its guns on the police saying their absence at both meetings did not help matters.
“On Thursday we reported how 200 uniformed soldiers marched in the Chikangwe and Chiedza suburbs of Karoi, in the politically volatile Mashonaland West province,” the coalition said.
“The soldiers were said to be chanting Zanu PF slogans and threatening to bring war to the doorsteps of those who will give different views to those of Zanu PF in the constitution consultation meetings.”
The group said there was an organised campaign to arm—twist Zimbabweans to support views held by the Zanu PF.
“There is now a growing worry that the same, state security who were deployed to brutalise opposition supporters in the June 2008 elections have been reactivated,” said the group.
“The soldiers who marched in Karoi, arbitrary arrests and incidents of violence in Bindura, Murehwa, Chinhoyi, Marondera, Mutare and Chegutu, all point to an organised campaign.” But police national spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena, refuted the allegations of violence and intimidation saying: “I can’t answer on something that is not true. I won’t bother myself commenting on reports from these NGO’s. These NGO’s create headaches unnecessarily.”