Bully tactics mar outreach work

constitution_MUTARE - Constitution-making in the city last week was marred by chaos and intimidation, as war veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters went on the rampage, targeting residents suspected of backing the MDC.

Residents interviewed expressed their anger over the threatening behaviour of the war veterans, saying Copac should investigate such cases or risk producing a half-baked document that did not reflect the wishes of people.

We could not freely express ourselves. Police failed us because they could not intervene, said one resident from Dangamvura.

An investigation by this paper revealed that Zanu (PF) was bussing in its supporters from one centre to the other to disturb the smooth flow of the process.

Another Zanu (PF) supporter was barred from participating after she came to the centre clad in party regalia.

At Chirovakamwe primary school in Dangamvura, war veterans nearly disrupted the process as they continuously interjected when a view contrary to their position was raised by residents. Some residents, for example, wanted the Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina compensation issues to be in the constitution, but the war veterans were opposed.

In Hobhouse, a local MDC (T) councillor was intimidated by a group of war veterans while he was visiting a fellow councillor.

We were surprised when we were approached by a group of war veterans who started harassing us. We were just driving around to see how the process was going around the city. The war veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters were chanting party slogans at the centre to intimidate residents,” said the councillor.

The war veterans thought this exercise was an election time so they were prepared to do what they know best, he said.

At Barring primary school in Florida, reported from The Zimbabwean were surprised to see soldiers clad in the army regalia in the crowd contributing their views. Residents said the move was stage-managed to instil fear in people so that they would be afraid to express themselves.

Why would they come clad in army regalia? If they were genuine people they could have put on civilian attire. The move was to intimidate us, said Ronald Dube of Yeovile. He added that the whole process was flawed because of interference by the army officers, Central Intelligence operatives and war veterans.

Copac will come out with a compromised document which does not reflect the wishes and aspirations of people of this country. People of Zimbabwe are being forced to support certain political parties’ position. This defies the whole purpose of writing a new constitution, said Martha Mutasa of Chikanga.

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