The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs was on Saturday forced to abandon public hearings on the proposed Electoral Amendment Bill after rowdy suspected Zanu PF supporters allegedly heckled members of the committee.
Dorcas Mhangami, chairing the public hearing, confirmed the incident, adding committee members literally fled the venue of the meeting after the group threatened to beat them up.
Mike Gwasha, wearing Zanu PF regalia and appearing drunk, stoked the fire after he shouted down Kwekwe lawyer and MDC-T Midlands North youth chairman Tapera Sengweni who had stood up to make contributions.
“He is from Kwekwe and we can’t have him making contributions down here in Gokwe. We want the people of Gokwe to speak not those who have been bused in,” said Gwasha who preferred to be called “comrade”.
Some Zanu PF supporters said they felt government was wasting money on the outreach programme while civil servants were wallowing in poverty.
They told NewsDay they had stopped the meeting because they had submitted their contributions during the outreach programme carried out as part of the constitution-making process.
“We want the outcome of the outreach first before we can start talking of amendments. They have told us that elections will only be held after a new constitution, so why do they want to amend electoral laws before the new constitution is out. They are here to waste money on travel allowances yet the economy is bleeding,” said Davison Maswiswi who claimed to represent Zanu PF.
Gokwe Kabuyuni MP Costin Muguti accused Mhangami of failing to control the fracas by allowing Zanu PF supporters to disrupt the meeting.
“She is well aware of the polarised society we live in, yet she failed to set out the ground rules at the beginning. Mhangami even failed to tell people that this hearing was not restricted to the people of Gokwe alone,” said Muguti.