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Villagers foil anti-outreach militants

VIGILANT villagers this week stopped a group of axe-wielding militants from disrupting a constitution-making outreach preparatory meeting in Nyanga North constituency, according to constitutional reforms boss Douglas Mwonzora.

Mwonzora, a joint chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee, also known as Copac, told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that the incident was one of cases of violence affecting the constitution-making process.
He said seven people, armed with axes, stormed Nyadowa Business Centre, the venue of the meeting, with the intention of attacking officials and participants on Sunday.
“There was violence in Nyanga where seven people armed with axes tried to stop a meeting I was addressing at Nyadowa Business Centre. The meeting had about 500 people and it was a preparation to public meetings that were starting this week,” said Mwonzora, who is MP for the constituency.
Because of the big crowd at the meeting, he said, the men were apprehended and were handed over to Nyamaropa Police Station.
Mwonzora’s allegations contradicted statements by his co-chair Paul Mangwana of Zanu PF who this week accused the media of misleading reportage on the level of constitution-related violence. The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) also dismissed reports of violence in Bikita.
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka, who had promised to verify the incident, had not done so by the time of going to print. But police officers from the area who cannot be named because they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the force confirmed the incident.
Meanwhile, independent monitors, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and Zimbabwe Peace Project have reported more disturbances affecting the process.
The organisations, which have deployed monitors countrywide, said an outreach meeting was cancelled in Chipinge on Saturday after disagreements on sitting arrangements degenerated into clashes between Zanu PF and MDC supporters. Two people were injured during the commotion at Checheche Primary School and were rushed to the nearby St Peters Hospital.
In Mashonaland West province the MDC-T alleged that rapporteurs were forcing participants to vote, by a show of hands, on various talking points.
MDC-T Mashonaland West provincial coordinator David Mangezi said some villagers in Hurungwe and Chegutu said the pattern had left villagers intimidated and afraid to publicly offer views.
“In areas like at Alpha Farm one person would stand up and say we want devolution of power and the rapporteurs would ask those who supported this view to raise their hands voting for his suggestion. The rapporteurs would do the same with those who disagreed with that particular point,” said Mangezi.
He alleged that a number of war veterans were intimidating villagers in areas like Kazangarare.
Commenting on the allegations, Mwonzora said no one was allowed to cause people to vote on any matter.
“It is not allowed. We are not carrying a referendum. People must not be allowed to vote. Rapporteurs must agree on how to assess the popular position,” he said.


Wongai Zhangazha

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