Activists Disrupt National Peace and Healing Meeting

Activists led by separatist group Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) were at it again yesterday when they disrupted a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) consultative meeting in Lupane, angering the local community who wanted to make contributions.

Traditional leaders, churches and villagers from areas surrounding Lupane were incensed by the rowdy behaviour of the activists, leading to a heated exchange of words.

Chaos started soon after the opening prayer when the group ordered NPRC deputy commissioner Mrs Lilian Chigwedere to sit down as she was explaining the purpose of the consultations.

The activists led by Mr Charles Thomas challenged the composition of the Commission, saying it did not represent diverse ethnic groups as it was dominated by Shona-speaking people.

The group raised the same issue as they disrupted the Bulawayo meeting last week.

At Lupane Community Hall yesterday, the activists sang derogatory songs as they toyi toyied carrying placards demanding that commissioners Chigwedere and Geoffrey Chada leave the meeting as they were Shona.

They added that only commissioner Leslie Ncube could address them.

Commissioner Ncube told the activists that as much as they were entitled to their constitutional right to demonstrate and air their grievances, no one was allowed to intimidate or stop other citizens from expressing themselves.

He urged those with contributions to put them in writing and submit to the Commission.

Commissioner Ncube said in future, the commission would open offices in districts to capture views widely.

The activists later heckled Commissioner Ncube and ordered him to leave, saying he was a sell-out.

Some church leaders and members of the community, including Chief Menyezwa desperately tried to talk to the group to allow people from Lupane and surrounding areas to contribute, to no avail.

The chaos lasted for about two hours and people dispersed without making any contributions as the activists vowed not to allow the commission to carry out its duties.

They demanded that the government should engage the International Criminal Court to deal with the issue.

“Go back to Harare, we don’t want you to come and tell us what to do,” said Mr Thomas.

“We want justice. We can’t talk in the presence of these people instead we want them to follow proper channels and bring chiefs and other community leaders here.”

Commissioners Chigwedere and Chada eventually left the meeting and the activists quizzed Commissioner Ncube why the commission proceeded to Matabeleland North after the same concerns were raised in Matabeleland South and Bulawayo last week.

Fr Marko Mkandla of the Catholic Church said: “It’s disappointing that we as the people of Lupane could not air our views. We wanted to express ourselves, but how do we do it when we are disturbed?”

Speaking after the proceedings, Reverend Shadreck Ncube of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance said they expected peace to prevail.

“We expected to hear people’s views, but unfortunately the meeting was disrupted,” he said.

The activists heckled church leaders, saying they had been paid to silence them.

Chief Menyezwa, who demanded an apology from the activists after one of them accused him of being drunk, said the incident was unfortunate as the province was robbed of an opportunity to express itself.

A woman from Sipepa in Tsholotsho, Mrs Mavis Moyo, said she was prepared to make a contribution.

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