The Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference degenerated into near-chaos yesterday when a Zanu PF delegate, Temba Mliswa, grabbed a Copac video camera and fled with it while traditional chiefs had a nasty verbal exchange with MDC-T officials over their committee deliberations.
Report by Everson Mushava Chief Reporter
Sources told NewsDay that Mliswa realised he was being filmed while blaming his party “for failing to coach the delegates well” and demanded that the cameraman delete the recording. The cameraman reportedly refused and Mliswa wrested the camera from him and went away.
The camera contained recordings of the entire two-day proceedings of the General Provisions thematic committee in which Mliswa was a member.
When NewsDay caught up with Mliswa and asked him about the camera debacle, the former physical fitness trainer claimed he had taken it to Harare Central Police Station – about three kilometres away from the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC), the venue of the conference – but would not say why. Copac spokesperson Jessie Majome, who witnessed Mliswa taking the camera away,said police had seen the incident and that she had asked for their intervention, but they had stood akimbo, apparently refusing to act.
“I reported the matter to the police, but they watched him (Mliswa) leaving with the camera without doing anything,” Majome told NewsDay.
MDC-T supporters said it was a Zanu PF ploy to sabotage deliberations against the party’s interests.
They claimed Mliswa had on Monday given the group all sorts of problems, sometimes claiming he was more educated because he received his education in Britain.
While the Mliswa saga was unfolding on the ground floor of the HICC, tempers were flaring on the upper floor where traditional chiefs clashed with MDC-T members.
The chiefs were demanding a rerun of their committee’s deliberations, claiming some of their views had not been factored in the final report.
Their committee counterparts would, however, have none of it. They told the chiefs all contributions had been included, which was why representatives from all parties, including the chiefs, had signed the report.
“We made deliberations on Monday and agreed on the report that representatives from all parties signed,” said an angry MDC-T woman delegate, who declined to be named.
“If Zanu PF did not coach the chiefs well or chose the wrong rapporteurs, it is their problem. Now they are frustrating the whole process. That is why we say chiefs should not be political.”
The chiefs made the demands soon after their return from the Zanu PF headquarters where all Zanu PF delegates had been summoned for “administrative issues”.
Members from the two MDCs openly alleged the president of the Chiefs’ Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira, who had reportedly coached the chiefs on what to say, was not happy with what he saw in the final report and was the one who ordered his charges to go back and demand a rerun of the process after consultations at the Zanu PF HQ.
The chiefs eventually capitulated and decided to send their “omitted” issues to Copac in a petition.
Addressing journalists a few minutes after the two incidents, Zanu PF Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said Copac would look into the matters in the same manner it had dealt with other disputes.
Speaking on behalf of the three Copac co-chairpersons, Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) said the conference was “generally a success”.
He said Copac would compile a report which would be considered for amendments by the technical teams.
He said in the event of a deadlock, agreement would be sought from the Global Political Agreement negotiators in consultation with the principals.