Outreach teams starving—MCC

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The constitution-making process in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces has been dogged by poor communication in a development that has seen outreach teams go without transport, food and allowances.
According to an update by the Matabeleland Constitutional Consortium (MCC), the welfare of the outreach teams is said to be at stake as most of them cannot afford decent meals owing to non-payment of allowances.
MCC is a coalition of civic organisations in Matabeleland monitoring the constitution-making exercise.
Members of this consortium are: Habakkuk Trust, Bulawayo Agenda, Christian Legal Services, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association, Radio Dialogue and Christian Alliance.
“Our officers who spoke to members of the outreach teams have revealed that some of them are complaining that they are tired of eating matemba (dried kapenta fish) meals, which happens to be the cheapest thing they can afford,” said MCC in its latest update.
The coalition expressed concern that most people attending the meetings seem to have been coached and told what to say to the outreach teams.
“People’s contributions are testimony that they have been made to memorise points, as they cannot elaborate on most of their initial points once asked to do so,” noted the consortium.
MCC said in Gwanda district, villagers indicated that village heads were forcing them to contribute in certain ways while the heavy presence of state security agents intimidated them.
MCC said most outreach members were not articulate on issues and finding it extremely difficult to explain to the public the various sections of the constitution adding that some traditional leaders had expressed concern that people were not prepared to contribute because there was very little civic education in the district.
“In Mapane the turnout was very low with 45—50 people while in Sitezi it (turnout) was good with about 250 people.
“In Manama not even a single person attended. In Tsholotsho district no consultative meeting has been held so far,” the organisations said.
MCC said the issues of devolution of power and the recognition of minority languages and culture were coming out strongly in all meetings.
The consortium said in the Midlands, the meetings were well attended.