Paul Mangwana, one of the committee’s three co-chairpersons told legislators that they should protect citizens from politically motivated attacks before, during and after expressing their wishes.

“It is our duty as parliamentarians to go to the people and ask them to forget that they are MDC, Zanu PF, Mavambo but the people of Zimbabwe. We must mobilise people to come to the outreach meetings and ensure that they have freedom before speaking, during and after speaking,” said Mangwana.

He said his committee had been assured by the country’s security arms that no one will be attacked after expressing their views.

Under last year’s power-sharing deal the country is supposed to have a new constitution in the next two years to pave way for new elections. The draft constitution will be put before the electorate in a referendum expected in July next year and if approved by Zimbabweans will then be brought before Parliament for enactment.

Once a new constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is expected to call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government elections.

Zimbabweans hope a new constitution will guarantee basic freedoms, strengthen Parliament and limit the President’s immense powers.

Seventeen thematic committees has already been set up. These will be dealing with various issues of interests to the public. The committees will be chaired by legislators selected from the three main political parties who will be deputised by representatives from civil society.

The proposed new constitution is part of a September 2008 power-sharing deal between Zimbabwe’s three main political parties that gave birth to the country’s coalition government last February. Radio VOP