MDC supporter stabbed by Zanu PF terrorists at outreach

HARARE – A supporter of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was stabbed and seriously injured as public outreach on a new constitution resumed after being postponed due to violence, his party said yesterday.\r\n

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said one of its supporters was beaten and stabbed by supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party on Saturday at a constitution meeting in Harare.

“An MDC supporter, Jonsaya Manyere, is battling for his life… after he was assaulted before being stabbed in the head by a group of Zanu-PF hooligans,” the party said in a statement. The stabbing was the only violent incident reported as public consultations resumed under a heavy police presence.

“The situation has been very peaceful. The police have done their work,” said Paul Mangwana, a leader of the outreach programme.

“Political parties told their supporters to behave at the meetings. The constitutional outreach is almost done,” Manwana said.

The public meetings were put on hold last month after a supporter of Tsvangirai was killed when militant backers of Mugabe stoned a meeting. Resumption was delayed by a shortage of funds. Tsvangirai blamed the military and security forces for the violence.

The constitution committee has set a date of June 30, 2011 to hold a referendum on the charter, which is meant to clear the way for new polls after violent 2008 elections. However, the programme is now months behind.

Zimbabwe Public meetings to draft a new Zimbabwean constitution have now concluded after three months of gatherings.

Police say rival party supporters jostled and traded insults at some of the final meetings held in and around Harare on Saturday and Sunday.

The former opposition party, now in a coalition with President Robert Mugabe, says one of its supporters was severely wounded after being stabbed in violence linked to the weekend meetings.

Mugabe says a constitutional referendum will be held in March. It is unclear if the deadline will be met.

The governing coalition was formed after disputed, violence-marred 2008 elections. But it is deeply divided, undermining its job of ushering in a new constitution and preparing for general elections.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe police on Saturday arrested two journalists who were covering outreach consultations on the new constitution as violence and chaos continued to dog the resumption of the process in the city.

Andrison Manyere and Nkosana Dlamini were detained over night at Waterfalls Police Station after being arrested while covering a COPAC meeting at St John Retreat in Harare South. The two were arrested despite being accredited by the government.

They had also been cleared by COPAC secretariat to cover the two-day exercise. Nhlanhla Ngwenya, the national director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter said on Saturday night that his organisation had contacted human rights lawyer Alex Muchadehama to try and secure their release.

But by Sunday morning the journalists were still reportedly in police custody in Waterfalls.

Another Journalist Joshua Manyere (32) was beaten up and seriously wounded by suspected ZANU (PF) supporters at St John Retreat, where the journalists were arrested. According to sources Joshua was battling for his life at a local private hospital.

Details obtained from an observer stationed at the venue indicate that during the meeting, suspected ZANU (PF) supporters threatened Manyere with unspecified action after his contributions were regarded as inconsistent with the views held by the ZANU PF supporters.

After the meeting, it is alleged that Manyere was attacked by a group of suspected ZANU (PF) supporters and seriously injured during the commotion.

Meanwhile, Ms. Diana Nyikadzino, an employee of the Movement for Democratic Change was on Saturday  detained at Waterfalls Police station for reasons still to be established after her apprehension at Hopley Clinic, Harare South. The Harare outreach resumed on Saturday and ends on Sunday after it was abandoned last month due to violence which left an MDC T supporter in Mbare dead.