Officials in charge of Zimbabwe's constitutional revision process said Monday that the public comment phase of the exercise was running smoothly this week after much confusion, many hitches and some violence last week.
Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution said operations are running more smoothly this week with outreach teams on the ground in eight provinces. Outreach activities were peaceful and stable in the troubled provinces of Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central, he said.
Mwonzora told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that a key management committee meeting set for Monday was put off to Tuesday to allow all political parties in the national unity government to participate.
Despite such assurances from the top, independent civil society monitors reported that three of their observers were assaulted in Mashonaland West on Sunday while monitoring meetings.
A statement from the Independent Constitution Monitoring Project said Paul Nechishanu, Artwell Katandika and Shingirayi Garira were assaulted at Scarffel Farm, Glynamel Farm and Baguta Primary School, respectively, and their cellphones and money were stolen, although two phones were later recovered.
Last week two other independent monitors and their driver were arrested while monitoring the outreach program in Manicaland province. The three were expected to appear in court next week, sources said.
Independent monitoring group spokesman Dzimbabwe Chimbga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that violence and confusion continue to mar public consultation meetings.
Both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change have called on the parliamentary committee to resolve problems dogging the outreach process. In some parts of Matabeleland North, outreach teams have been deployed without data-capturing equipment such as cameras and audio recorders, the parties said.
Independent monitor Linda Mpofu, circulating in Matabeleland South province, told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the committee must step up public information about meetings as attendance has been very low.
Midlands province outreach team leader Amos Chibaya said things were running smoothly in Vungu district where the member of Parliament was working on Monday.
Though outreach in Midlands province is proceeding without reports of incidents, ordinary Zimbabweans say there has been much confusion as to venues and schedules, which could prevent many from being heard, reported correspondent Taurai Shava from Gweru, capital of the province.
Philip Pasirayi, director of the Center for Community Development in Zimbabwe, said his group has been holding public meetings countrywide to raise public awareness on the need for a new democratic constitution.