MDC-T says it will participate in the Copac outreach meetings in Harare today under protest because of Zanu PF’s refusal to increase the number of meetings per ward to two to accommodate the multitudes of people expected to attend the consultative gatherings in the populous capital.
Zanu PF was said to be trying to get an excuse to abandon the Harare meetings by refusing the other parties’ special request but the MDC-T said yesterday the ploy would not work as they would agree to the one meeting per ward arrangement although under protest.
Co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) said his party reached an agreement over the issue and decided to take part in the meetings but under protest and “with eyes wide open.”
Mwonzora argued that it was not possible to address and gather views from groups of more than 500 people in one meeting.
He gave an example of Dzivaresekwa were he said there were over 36 000 people arguing that it would be virtually impossible to deal with such a big crowd and collate their views in an orderly manner.
In the rural areas where one meeting was held per ward the average attendance was 150 people.
Mwonzora said trying to deal with big crowds in the cities was likely to cause confusion and even chaos because police would not be able to contain such big numbers of people.
“We are going to participate but if there are going to be any cases of confusion, noise, chaos or a breakdown of law and order we will abandon the meeting until order is restored. We are very clear about that as a party because some people have refused to see common sense,” he said.
“But the party came to an agreement after lengthy discussions and consultations to take part in the meetings as advertised in the press,” he said.
“We are proceeding under protest,” Mwonzora said.
Mwonzora questioned the liaison committee that met this week and decided against the MDC-T proposal saying it was dominated by Zanu PF supporters who were biased in their actions.
MDC-T wanted two meetings per ward arguing that Harare and Bulawayo had too many people per ward to be accommodated in one meeting.
Mwonzora claimed the parties had initially agreed as Copac to have two meetings per ward before Zanu PF wrote a letter disputing that.
However, Zanu PF’s Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana differed with Mwonzora arguing that they never agreed on anything and was quoted saying the MDC-T co-chairperson was a “fraudster” who wanted to have more meetings in Harare and Bulawayo perceived as MDC-T strongholds.
“Our workplan says one meeting per ward. Any changes require approval by the Select Committee. He called the management committee and lied to them that he had spoken to me and we had agreed on the changes”.
Mwonzora said MDC-T was aware of the intentions of Zanu PF to disrupt the process but said his party would remain vigilant.
Police yesterday said they were ready for the process and would beef up security to ensure public order at all the meetings.