Zimbabwe's often-interrupted and frequently disrupted constitutional revision outreach program faced the risk of being put on hold following a dispute Wednesday between the parliamentary select committee in charge of the exercise and international donors funding it.
VOA Studio 7 correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from Harare that the United Nations Development Fund and parliamentarians met to discuss soaring costs of the program, in particular invoices from hotels putting up outreach team that the UNDP was said to have questioned.
Select Committee Co-Chairman Edward Mkhosi said the committee has funds for allowances but is not in a position at the moment to pay hotels and other service providers.
Mkhosi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the committee has asked for another US8 million to cover another month of outreach meetings around the country. Thousands have been held in smaller cities, towns and rural areas - but they have not even begun in Harare and Bulawayo.
Outreach team members in Mashonaland West province met in Chegutu on Wednesday to discuss issues troubling the program, but failed to resolve differences, sources present said.
Issues included the busing of people from outside localities to public comment meetings and violence which led to a boycott on Sunday by team members from the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Team leader and Kadoma Central parliamentarian Editor Matamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC grouping told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that team members will meet with the liaison committee of political part representatives on Thursday for more talks.
Outreach teams in Midlands province meanwhile have written to the select committee warning of a possible strike if they are not paid allowances. Midlands sources said four out of 10 teams went to work today. The 30 Midlands rapporteurs are said to be complaining as well of a lack of stationery and other basic materials.
Outreach teams in Masvingo have given the select committee until Friday to pay allowances. Team members there are complaining that because the hotels they are staying in have not been paid they are obliged to pay for their own food.
But sources in Matabeleland North and South said outreach meetings will continue although they face similar problems. Matabeleland sources said team members in the spirit of patriotism will give authorities a chance to organize funding and are confident they will eventually be paid.