Members of the public have been encouraged to make contributions on the Electoral Amendment Bill in writing to avoid incidents of intimidation during the ongoing countrywide public consultations.
Douglas Mwonzora, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs chairperson, told NewsDay yesterday they had adopted the new system following recent disturbances.
“The public hearings are being marred by rowdy behaviour of certain activists, especially Zanu PF elements, but we have now encouraged people to put their contributions in writing if they cannot give their views freely because of political intimidation,” said Mwonzora.
“In Marondera we had to stop the public hearings after Zanu PF people tried to stop MDC supporters from speaking and in Headlands there were complaints views of the people there were too MDC-centred. But hearings in Mutasa went on well, while in Mutare the committee members suffered a lot of abuse from Zanu PF supporters who held us hostage for an hour,” he said.
However, Mwonzora said since they decided to get views in writing, the plan was working well and people were contributing immensely.
“We want people to air their views and I am sure Zanu PF officials are also working on their supporters to stop the disruptions. There is a lot of coaching by certain political parties since some people think elections will be held very soon and are already in election mode. That has poisoned the hearings, but we will never give in,” Mwonzora said.
He said Zanu PF had also asked the committee to visit more areas where it has support.
“We have added more areas suggested by Zanu PF and these are Chivi Central, Zvishavane, Nyamandlovu, Muzvezve in Kadoma and Beitbridge,” he said.
A few months ago, public hearings on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill were also marred by violence in different parts of the country.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill is currently at its second reading stage in the House of Assembly.
Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa has reportedly bowed down to some proposed changes on the Bill by the committee.