With Zimbabwe's constitutional revision outreach process in its ninth week, the parliamentary officials in charge of the exercise have still not scheduled outreach meetings in Harare, the capital, and second city Bulawayo.
Queried about the outreach schedule for the major cities, Zimbabwean Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said dates will be set before much more time has elapsed, but declined to elaborate on why the decision has been delayed. He said there is no reason for concern as there is plenty of time left in the overall schedule.
Matinenga said meetings would begin in Harare and Bulawayo late this month or early next.
The parliamentary select committee for constitutional revision postponed outreach meetings in Harare and Bulawayo soon after the outreach process rolled out in mid-June most provinces, saying it had learned that certain people intended to pack outreach meetings in order to dominate them. The World Cup was also a distraction.
Matinenga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the outreach process is now running smoothly and that about one third of meetings have been held on a national basis.
Reports continue to emerge of intimidation in the outreach process.
Resident Newman Hungwe of Chegutu, Mashonaland West province, said pressure on the public by war veterans and soldiers has increased in recent weeks with residents being forced to rehearse responses before meetings.
Similar reports came from sources in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Masvingo.
Hungwe told VOA that land ownership is prominent among the issues being promoted by war veterans.
Elsewhere, the Youth Agenda Trust, a non-governmental organization, said the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is refusing to run advertisements intended to encourage participation by youths in the constitutional revision process. Correspondent Mark Peter Nthambe reported from Harare on the controversy.