Copac teams face corruption, hunger in Masvingo

Dear Editor
“They are going to leave this junk programme. Mdhara (the old man) said vacha kuvara nenzara” (they’re going to die of hunger) said a worker at Flamboyant Hotel.
I do not know the mdhara being referred to this discussion but some of my friends hinted it was the owner of the hotel, who they say is totally against the constitution-making process.
He says only the likes of his late father were the candidates fit enough to have directed Zimbabwe to a new constitution.
We debated the issue with my friends and only after a few weeks at the hotel, we were able to grasp what this worker meant.
Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) outreach teams in Masvingo are facing starvation as they are carrying out the national task on empty stomachs for the past three weeks.
Workers at the Flamboyant Hotel have promised never to serve us dinner as they said the money that was coming from Copac or United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was insufficient.
When other organisations want to use the hotel, we are all thrown out with the reminder that we are not paying cash.
Of the $60 dollars per individual charge per day, the hotel cannot afford to provide us with breakfast and dinner.
The hotel gets nearly
$10 000 a day and sub-lets accommodation for some of the outreach members to other lodges in Masvingo which it pays $30 per day per person.
These lodges have proven to offer better services than Flamboyant and Chevron hotels, as they are giving all the members food and bed at $30 per day.
The management at Flamboyant Hotel has even gone as far as threatening these lodges, urging them to follow the “food withdrawal” strategy.
This has sparked outrage from different outreach members, as it is clear that party factionalist strategy is being used to deter the progress of the constitution-making process.
Political factionalism is serious in Masvingo, to the extent that even outsiders like most of us are now feeling the heat.
The departure of a senior governor from the programme and the confrontation of a party functionary by his MP left many of us stunned.
It is now clear that owners of the hotels that won the tender to provide us with food and accommodation are bringing their personal vendettas into this programme, hence the continued suffering by members of the outreach programme.
The teams spend 4-5 hours addressing people and later have to travel back and start compiling people’s views.
This amounts to about 8 hours without food.
If UNDP and Copac are serious about the success of this programme, then they should put the concerns of their workers at heart.
Many thanks to the small lodges in Masvingo, which have been helping team members from day one, when were evicted by the Regency hotels.
Corruption has also been one of the deterrents to the outreach exercise in Masvingo.
A “respected” chief is responsible for pushing for the hire of his cars and threatening others whose vehicles are listed.
A case in point is when cars were sent from Copac Harare offices only to be told by the chief to return because he had “fixed” his cars onto the list.
Two technicians were also brought in by the chief and they happen to be his younger brothers.
Worse still, they didn’t know how to the use cameras and to back up data, as they had not gone through the training process that others went through in Harare.
This resulted in some of the outreach recorded materials being deleted by one of the technicians.
The other one was busy revealing confidential information to members of the public.
A chief should be a symbol of respect and honour but outreach team members laughed at this one in Masvingo when a certain man mentioned his name.
Outreach members have even suggested a rotation of coordinators, in order to do away with this chief’s involvement in the programme.
It’s time we wrote our constitution and dealt with these corrupt activities in our country.
Only we can make our country a better place to be.
I tell you we are not going to abandon this noble programme, come factionalism, hunger and corruption because this is the new Zimbabwe that we are in the process of making.

Mberi neBumbiro

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