By Lance Guma
20 November 2009
The MDC has accused ZANU PF of mobilizing its militia to re-open torture bases countrywide, to intimidate the electorate into accepting the controversial Kariba Draft constitution. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party says it has unearthed evidence that meetings are being convened to revive terror squads to harass, intimidate and torture people to endorse the draft constitutional document, which leaves sweeping presidential powers largely intact.
A Parliamentary Select Committee is supposed to be leading the constitution making process to ensure that Zimbabweans have a say in any new constitution. The co-chairperson of the committee, Douglas Mwonzora, told SW Radio Africa that their outreach teams would begin their work around the country on 29th November.
With these public hearings now imminent, ZANU PF is reportedly beginning the deployment of ‘terror squads’, to force people to accept the Kariba Draft. Meetings to discuss these deployments are already taking place. At Chief Nhema’s homestead in Zaka North, Masvingo, ZANU PF official Shenu Jeya openly told villagers that all militia bases set up last year during the violent presidential run-off had to be re-opened. Another meeting in Murehwa at Zihute Hall saw one district chairman, known as Siwela, telling the gathering that ‘if they heard their neighbours screaming at night, they should remain indoors.’ He also warned that ZANU PF youths were monitoring the movements of everyone in the area.
In the mining town of Bindura, where Tsvangirai began his career as a mine foreman, 43 war veterans called for a meeting at Killstone Farm. The meeting was chaired by a retired army colonel known as Siya, who said it was impossible to convince the electorate to vote for the Kariba Draft and as a result it was necessary to use violence. The MDC say similar meetings are being held in all the country’s 10 provinces.
The party has also expressed concern at the way victims of last years election violence are being forced to surrender blankets, tents and other kitchen utensils donated to them by aid organisations. At the end of October Nyepanai Chimusakati was forced into surrendering his building materials, to Roy Chihota Jenami, an aide to Chief Mutasa. Chimusakati, whose home was burnt down in June 2008, had 6 asbestos sheets, 2 window frames, 1 door frame and 6 bags of cement forcibly taken from him.
Meanwhile ZANU PF has postponed its December congress, following reports they were struggling to raise money to sponsor the delegates to go to Harare. Sources say in the past the money came from the Reserve Bank, under Gideon Gono’s ‘quasi-fiscal’ activities, but with the dollarisation of the economy and the MDC running the Finance Ministry, such siphoning-off of resources is now much more difficult.