By Bridget Mananavire
HARARE – A group of people claiming to be war veterans yesterday took over a Zimbabwe Constitution Select Committee (Copac) press conference in Harare by interjecting and hurling insults at Copac co-chairpersons, accusing them of slowing down the completion of the constitution-making process.
So fiery was the group that they even managed to cow journalists into silence during question time. The journalists were left terrified by the “bullish” war veterans who charged at the parliamentarians who were visibly shocked by their behaviour.
At some point the marauding men and women, almost assaulted a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZiC) staffer, Beloved Chiweshe who had chided them when he was introducing himself.
Chiweshe however, stood his ground and made it clear that the constitution-making process has been hijacked by elements who are even threatening journalists into silence.
“These briefings should be democratic to promote more engagement between Copac and the press. We are going to end up having groups mobilising people to come here which will cause crisis,” said Chiweshe.
One of them, even had the temerity to insult the co-chairpersons describing them as thieves and ignorant people who are wasting Zimbabwean’s precious time. He said, “You people do not know anything, you are only enjoying stealing people’s money and if you waste our time we will deal with you.”
This did not go down well with Zanu PF co-chairperson Paul Mangwana who reprimanded the group against disrespecting him and his colleagues. “We are honourables therefore we demand that you respect us and the position we were put by the people,” an agitated Mangwana said.
He went on to dispute claims that Copac is a money-making venture for the select committee members. Zimbabwe’s war veterans have been calling for the disbandment of Copac saying “it had betrayed the views of the people of Zimbabwe”.
This is not the first time that war veterans had intimidated and shown disrespect to the Copac officials. MDC Copac co-chairperson Douglass Mwonzora said the war vets had earlier threatened to assault him and he had to seek protection from his MDC party security.
“Recently in Vumba about 30 war veterans came and demanded to see the co-chairpersons, apparently I was the only one available as most Zanu PF officials had left the hotel. They started threatening me with violence and I had to seek protection,” Mwonzora said.
“These people are just a sub-sector of the various interest groups in Zimbabwe. We are not going to change any report because of them,” he said. Daily News
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