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UN Funder of Zimbabwe Constitutional Revision Raises Concerns About Violence

Sources said the UNDP, which pledged to give the parliamentary committee revising the constitution another US$8 million, fears the exercise could go off track at a late stage in the game if violence persists

The United Nations Development Program says it is seriously concerned at the steep rise in political violence in Zimbabwe and wants assurances that a constitutional revision stakeholders meeting it is funding later this year will not be disrupted.

Sources said the UNDP, which pledged to give the parliamentary committee in charge of revising the constitution another US$8 million to complete the process, fears the exercise could go off track at a late stage in the game if violence persists.

Alleged ZANU-PF supporters attacked a rally of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday in the Harare satellite town of Chitungwiza, throwing stones and wielding other weapons including

Alleged ZANU-PF militants disrupted the first all-stakeholders constitutional conference in 2010 at the Harare International Conference Center, hurling abuse at Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, and throwing the proceedings into chaos.

The meeting was eventually abandoned, signaling trouble ahead for the constitutional revision process, often delayed by disruption of the public comment process.

Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the parliamentary select committee on constitutional revision for the Tsvangirai MDC formation told reporter Blessing Zulu that organizers are also troubled and the second all-stakeholders conference might not be funded.

But ZANU-PF Co-Chairman Paul Mangwana professed ignorance of UNDP concerns.

Committee Co-Chairman Edward Mkhosi of the MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said that if current violence continues, the safety of participants in the as-yet-unscheduled stakeholders session cannot be guaranteed.

Blessing Vava of the National Constitutional Assembly, which has opposed Parliament's leadership of the constitutional revision process, said the United Nations should pressure Harare to guarantee that the stakeholders meeting will not be troubled by violence.

In light of the UNDP concerns, much is riding on the meeting of leaders of the three co-governing political parties called Friday by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to achieve a common view on the necessity of keeping the peace in politics.

Observers said it’s not clear the meeting will do much to halt violence, noting that other such meetings ended in a political impasse.

For perspective, reporter Tatenda Gumbo reached out to political commentator Effie Dlela Ncube and political analyst Joy Mabenge, who said it is good that the political parties are engaging – but added past experience has not been encouraging.