COPAC violence plot leaked

Militants in Zanu (PF) are plotting a violent disruption of the Second All-Stakeholders Conference scheduled for next week so as to force a political re-negotiation of the draft constitution.

A Zanu (PF) Central Committee member told The Zimbabwean that the intricate strategy involves using the national statistical report relating to information gathered during the constitution-making outreach programme to whip up emotion at the conference, after which party activists would be deployed to cause mayhem.

Activists would be divided into two groups, one wearing Zanu (PF) T-shirts and the other wearing MDC-T and MDC-N regalia to make it appear as if the violence that would break out would be genuine intra-party chaos, he revealed.

“The thinking among hardliners is that we still have to negotiate the Copac draft. They don’t want the process to proceed without acceding to Zanu (PF)’s major demands,” said the source on condition of anonymity.

“Even though not all in Zanu (PF) agree with that strategy, it can be successful because sharp disagreements are bound to arise over how to treat the national report and the proposed draft.”

Bickering among political parties has already set the tone for confrontation ahead of the conference. Copac and both MDCs favour the position whereby the conference would be used as a feedback platform. But Zanu (PF) is insisting on a protracted discussion of the draft.

It wants the contents to be pitted against the national report, arguing that the former deviated from the fundamental views given by the people during the outreach programme, while the latter is an authentic reflection of the people’s wishes.

“The hardliners anticipate heated debate on the first day of the conference. Zanu (PF) will insist on comparing the draft and the national report, but the other parties will disagree. After that, the party will deploy youths to storm the venue and engage in acts of violence that will force the conveners (Copac) to call off deliberations. This will give the party the chance to call for further negotiations of the draft,” added the source.

The party’s National Chairman, Simon Khaya Moyo, has openly told supporters to go out and defend the party’s proposed amendments at the conference. Alert to possible violence, Copac has engaged the Zimbabwe Republic Police to tighten security at the conference.

The First All-Stakeholders’ conference held in Harare in 2009 was disrupted by Zanu (PF) activists who invaded the venue chanting party slogans, as police stood and watched.

Police spokesperson, Tadius Chibanda, said he was confident no violence would break out this time. “We are going to provide tight security because our duty is to protect the citizens,” he said.

Zanu (PF) National Commissar, Webster Shamu, when contacted for a comment on allegations that his party wanted to incite violence at the conference, said he did not talk to the media over the phone, and hung up.

Copac has reduced the number of delegates to the conference from an initial 2,000 to 1,100. Of these, 246 delegates will come from political parties, 284 from Parliament and 571 delegates from civil society civil society.

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