The parliamentary committee running Zimbabwe's constitutional revision process said Wednesday that it will discipline a public outreach process rapporteur who falsely charged that someone had broken into an office in the province of Matabeleland South and stolen information collected during meetings in Insiza district.
Parliamentary Select Committee Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora told journalists at a weekly news conference in Harare that no such break-in occurred and that the rapporteur in question had lied.
He said investigations showed that the rapporteur, a member of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, wanted to take his laptop home and when refused permission do do so complained that files on his laptop had been tampered with and leaked the story to the press.
Mwonzora said laptops used by rapporteurs in the outreach exercise are password-protected.
VOA Studio 7 correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from Harare on the incident.
Meanwhile, a constitutional outreach meeting in Mutasa South, Manicaland province, was canceled Tuesday after suspected ZANU-PF supporters caused a commotion by objecting to the presence of school children at the venue.
The Independent Monitoring Group, a civil society consortium, issued a statement saying that ZANU-PF supporters accused the headmaster of Mutambara Central Primary School of conspiring with local lawmaker Trevor Saruwaka, a member of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to bring the students into the outreach meeting to counter ZANU-PF positions on the new constitution.
The monitoring group also reported that villagers complained that teachers and nurses taking part in the meeting were not from the Mutasa South constituency. The group said the villagers became so unruly that Saruwaka, an outreach team leader, had to leave the meeting, and the ZANU-PF youth militia dispersed the children.
Constitutional law lecturer Greg Linington of the University of Zimbabwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that such incidents reflected a general lack of understanding of the nature of a constitution, and that such acts of intimidation prevent free discussion by the people of what should be in the basic document.
Elsewhere, the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition said it intends to take the constitutional revision outreach process to Zimbabweans in the diaspora, noting that the official meetings now in progress do not include Zimbabweans living outside the country although they account for about a quarter of the national population.
Crisis Coalition Regional Advocacy Officer Dewa Mavhinga said diaspora outreach meetings will begin in South Africa on Friday, July 30, with additional meetings to be held next week in Britain and Botswana.
Mavhinga said the parliamentary committee in charge of revision has not made a serious effort to collect the views of the several million Zimbabweans living elsewhere in Southern Africa or in the West.