COPCA says no outreach without police

police_zim_atworkHARARE Zimbabwes constitutional committee says a key exercise to consult citizens on the proposed new governance charter cannot go ahead without .....

police backing, in the latest obstruction to the crucial reforms that are already behind schedule.

Bickering among the three governing parties over funding for the reforms and personnel to collate the peoples views and ideas during the public outreach programme has seen the reforms miss several targets already.

Any further hold ups could mean fresh elections to be held under a new constitution and earmarked for next year might have to be delayed.

Douglas Mwonzora, a joint-chairman of the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC), said the committee had put on hold the outreach exercise because it could not send teams to interview the public without police cover.

Mwonzora, from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirais MDC party said police chief Augustine Chihuri was demanding US$2.9 million to meet transport and upkeep costs for 1 000 officers who would accompany COPAC officials in the field.

But it is money the committee says it does not have and should not be paying in the first place because constitutional reforms are a national project that the police should support free of charge.

He said: We are not moving anywhere until we have police escort. We know that some rogue elements opposed to democracy might want to attack our outreach teams.

Rejecting police demands for payment for their services Mwonzora said: It will be tantamount to buying state protection if COPAC is to pay the police. The police must be funded by the government of Zimbabwe and not COPAC.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment on the matter.

Mwonzora said his committee had forwarded Chihuri’s request for funding to Tsvangirais office, the COPAC management-committee and other relevant ministries.

Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office Godern Moyo confirmed receiving the COPAC letter but referred questions to Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga. The minister was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

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