Zimbabwe: Mugabe and Tsvangirai jointly condemn constitutional conference riots as talks resume

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The constitutional conference resumed in Harare on Tuesday after it was disrupted by supporters of President Robert Mugabe the previous day. There is heavy police presence within the conference hall unlike on Monday where just a handfull where deployed.

Delegates are thoroughly vetted by police in a bid off weed off unruly elements.

The first attempt to hold the national all-stakeholders conference convened under the auspices of the country’s power-sharing agreement broke up in disarray.

A group of Mugabe’s notorious war-veteran militia drowned out the proceedings with singing and dancing, and threw water bottles at delegates, forcing riot police to clear out the conference centre.

On Monday night, Mugabe condemned the disturbance at the gathering of
4,000 delegates from all sections of society, who have been asked to contribute towards a new democratic constitution.

He and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said they would not “brook any
further nonsense,” he said.

In the morning there were indications that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara will address delegates but by 2 pm they were still to show up.

This morning (Tuesday) Douglas Mwonzora, the co-chairmen of the parliamentary select committee said the delegates were reassembling.
“The conference is restarting right now, as we speak,” he said.

However, the conference is now a fast track process as it has to end tonight due to limited funding.

The convention will select teams which will be tasked with going around the country for the next four months gathering views and ideas that will form the basis for the new constitution.

Once a new constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is expected to then call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government elections.

Zimbabwe is currently governed under the 1979 Constitution agreed at
the Lancaster House talks in London.

The constitution has been amended 19 times since the country’s independence in 1980 and critics say the changes have only helped to entrench Mugabe and ZANU PF’s stranglehold on power.

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