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Zimbabwe Constitutional Outreach Officials of MDC Stage Boycott Over Arrest

Independent civil society monitor Tadziripira Khumalo said many constitutional outreach team members are failing to stand up to those disrupting public meetings for fear they may be arbitrarily arrested

Constitutional revision outreach meetings in Zimbabwe's eastern Manicaland province ground to a halt on Wednesday after outreach team members from both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change halted work to protest the arrest of a rapporteur from one of the MDC groupings on a charge of public indecency.

The arrest of Kudakwashe Munengiwa of the MDC formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara followed an altercation with supporters of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, MDC sources said.

Manicaland MDC sources said ZANU-PF Senator Oriah Kabayanjiri of for the Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe constituency threatened Munengiwa for making a video recording of the harassment and intimidation of members of the public at an outreach meeting in Chipinge West by war veterans and other ZANU-PF supporters.

MDC sources said Kabayanjiri has been taking over public outreach meetings, among other tactics launching into long prayers that highlight ZANU-PF's positions as to what should be in the new constitution.

Following Munengiwa’s arrest Wednesday morning, about 70 outreach officers launched a protest boycott.

Independent civil society monitor Tadziripira Khumalo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that many outreach team members are failing to stand up to those disrupting meetings for fear they may be arbitrarily arrested.

Elsewhere in Manicaland, the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said four of its members were pursued by suspected agents of the Central Intelligence Organization who then confiscated their car.

Makoni South legislator Pishayi Muchauraya says the four went to inform Chipinge West villagers that a public meeting had been postponed. When they left the village they were followed by men in dark glasses, one bearing an AK-47 assault rifle. Muchauraya said the four abandoned their vehicle and fled on foot.

Elsewhere, a Tsvangirai MDC legislator accused ZANU-PF lawmakers of delaying the establishment of a website to allow the millions of Zimbabweans outside the country to comment on the constitutional revision.

Deputy Chairwoman Gladys Gombani Dube of the parliamentary select committee in charge of the revision process said the governing political parties - ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations - reached agreement on the website following long negotiations. She said the site for comment by the diaspora should be accessible within days.

Meanwhile, select committee Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora said the Finance Ministry made funds available to pay drivers and technicians who had threatened to strike over non-payment of allowances. Mwonzora told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the drivers and technicians should start to receive their payments late Wednesday.