Zimbabwe army deployed to enforce Kariba Draft Constitution

Chivi villagers were on Wednesday forced to abandon their day-to-day duties to attend the meetings called by soldiers from 4.1 infantry battalion in Masvingo. Prior to the meetings suspected Zanu PF youths were seen early Wednesday making door to door visits instructing villagers to attend the meetings.

"I was not aware that there were meetings which were arranged, I was shocked to see the youths in Zanu PF ward structures coming at my home saying all the people above 18 years were supposed to go to the meeting," said a villager to Radio VOP. "I had no option because we are very scared of this military junta, I had to abandon my programme and went to the meeting."

The villagers said they were told by the soldiers that there was no other draft constitution which was better than the Kariba one.

The Kariba draft was crafted by the three political parties who are signatory to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in Zimbabwe. However the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions said there was need to take the draft to the people for their inputs, a move that has been resisted by Zanu PF.

Zimbabwe needs a new constitution before it holds another election to take over from the transition government that was put in place in February following the intervention of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

"When we arrived at the meeting, we were surprised to discover that there were soldiers, war veterans and Zanu PF officials who all said we should support the Kariba draft constitution if the experts who are supposed to come here for consultations arrive in our area," said Curthibert Chengeta.

MDC-T provincial chairman Wilstaff Sitemere said he had since received reports that villagers including his supporters in Chivi were coerced by soldiers to attend the meeting. "We received the news today and we are not happy with such behaviour at all. Soldiers are now having tendencies of victimizing innocent people in Chivi and some parts of rural areas. We are encouraging people to resist such actions because the people have their right to support their own draft,"

Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, who is Chivi Central legislator (Zanu PF) and also co-chairman of the constitution making process said he was not aware of the move by soldiers in his constituency. "I do not know what you are saying but I am aware that all political parties are already campaigning for people to support any draft of their own choice," said Mangwana.