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Axe Set to Fall on Coordinator of Troubled Zimbabwe Constitutional Consultations - Sources

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

Select parliamentary committee officials declined to comment whether Kunjeku will be sacked for poor management of the process - but sources said his removal will become official at a Wednesday meeting of the panel

Political sources close to Zimbabwe's troubled constitutional outreach process said the national coordinator of the select parliamentary committee in charge of the exercise, Peter Kunjeku, is to be relieved of his duties.

Select parliamentary committee officials declined to comment whether Kunjeku will be sacked for poor management of the process. But sources said his removal will become official at a Wednesday meeting of the panel.

Reached by VOA for comment COPAC Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora refused to confirm Kunjeku will be fired. But he said the committee was concerned about the competency of the staff running the exercise, plagued since last week by confusion over meeting schedules and logistical hurdles including technology and funding.

Mwonzora said that the committee will also meet Wednesday with leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara over public criticism by MDC officials.

A new controversy arose Tuesday as committee members said journalists will be admitted to meetings being held to collect views on the new constitution - but won’t be allowed to interview participants or report on meeting content.

VOA Studio 7 correspondent Irwin Chifera reported that the ZANU-PF co-chairman of the select committee argued that reporting the views of participants could influence those in areas not yet reached by the process.

But Zimbabwe Union of Journalists President Foster Dongozi said journalists would report professionally on the meetings, and that the committee was unreasonably restricting the free flow of information.

The MDC formation of Prime-Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reported extensive intimidation and violence by liberation war veterans on farms around the country in connection with the outreach.

MDC Deputy Organizing Secretary Morgan Komichi, in charge outreach monitoring for the party, said such pressure on Zimbabweans to adopt ZANU-PF positions on the constitution is especially prevalent in farming communities.

Mashonaland East outreach team leader Piniel Denga said turnout has been low, which he blamed on harassment and intimidation by ZANU-PF members in areas of Mahusekwa, Wedza and surrounding farms.

Manicaland province team leader Lynette Karenyi-Kore said consultation is going more smoothly though youths are not coming out to participate in great numbers.

Residents of Harare, where the outreach process was postponed until late July, are unhappy they cannot voice their opinions and that the select committee has not set specific dates for the process to start.

Combined Harare Residents Association Chairman Simbarashe Moyo said his group is lobbying the committee in charge of constitutional revision to increase the number of venues for comment when meetings begin.

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