21 February 2017

Zimbabwe: Constitutional Amendment Hearing Aborted As Zanu-PF, MDC-T Activists in Punch-Up

Zanu PF and MDC-T activists on Tuesday exchanged blows, forcing the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to abandon public hearings on the Constitutional Amendment Bill No.1.

The hearings were taking place at Mbuya Nehanda Hall in Dombotombo but the chairperson, Ziyambi Ziyambi, was forced to stop the process as Zanu PF and MDC-T activists exchanged blows before members of the public could make their contributions.

MDC-T chief whip and Mutare Central MP, Innocent Gonese, said the committee had no choice but to stop the hearings.

Gonese also accused the police of not attending the hearing to ensure law and order was maintained although they were aware of the event.

"However, we are happy that members of the public managed to submit written suggestions before the chaos started. We are also satisfied that our previous public hearings in Harare and Masvingo were successful," Gonese said.

"The portfolio committee will also ensure that the police are in attendance during next public hearings," Gonese said.

Over 300 Marondera residents had packed the hall but the public hearing had to be aborted as MDC-T activists occupying the front benches started trading insults with Zanu PF supporters seated at the back. Both rowdy parties then confronted each other and started fighting blows.

The Zanu PF government is attempting to amend the 2013 Constitution through the Bill to enable president Mugabe to appoint a new Chief Justice. However, the proposal being pushed by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is facing setbacks as citizens in other public hearings have rejected the move.

The public hearings end on Friday.

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