Violence flares at a Crisis Coalition discussion

Misheck Shambare

Violence reared its ugly head again at a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) organised discussion in Harare on Wednesday after disgruntled members of the organisation demanded that the spokesperson Mfundo Mlilo recuse himself from the chairing the proceedings.

Mlilo who is also the Director of Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) was chairing the discussion, which angered some members of CiZC present at the discussion.

The disgruntled members demanded to know why Mlilo was chairing the meeting as according to them it was the role of the chairperson.

“Before I talk about our voting system I would like to know why Mfundo Mlilo is chairing this event.

“He is not supposed to be chairing and I demand to know why he is there,” he said.

Proceedings had to stop for close to ten minutes as rival factions traded insults against each other.

Former President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Pride Mukono who was part of the disgruntled members of CiZC calling for Mlilo to relinquish his chairing role said the coalition should put its house in order first.

“Mfundo Mlilo should not sit and chair this event and pretend all is well within CiZC yet there are many irregularities and fights in this organisation.

“CiZC should put its house in order first before coming for these discussions of elections,” he said.

Police details manning the New Ambassador Hotel had to be called to quell the charged factions as they traded blows outside the meeting room.

Journalists attending the meeting tried hard to stop the commotion encouraging the rival factions to respect the Quill Club as it was a space for journalists whose right of admission was subjected to their consent.

“You people at CiZC should respect the Quill Club since it is a place for journalists, you can not come with your fights here” said Robert Tapfumaneyi.

Other journalists could be heard registering their displeasure at the behaviour of CiZC members causing commotion during the meeting.

Sensing growing displeasure from the journalists in attendance, Mlilo was forced to close proceedings before profusely apologising for the behaviour of his organisation’s members.

“I would like to apologise to all participants here present for the commotion that has happened and it is unfortunate that such things have to happen in front of journalists.

“These people who caused the commotion are not members of CiCZ and we will not be deterred from forging ahead with our work” said Mlilo.

Leadership disputes within CiZC escalated after the organisation’s Board voted not to renew the contract of current Coordinator Mr. McDonald Lewanika upon expiry on the 31st of December 2014.

The board among other issues accused Mr. Lewanika of incompetency and negligence of duty that resulted in CiZC being fined close to US $22, 000 for failing to remit taxes to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).

Lewanika has however been fighting hard to disregard his dismissal and is said to have organised a special Annual General Meeting of members where a vote was to be moved to dismiss the chairperson Dewa Mavhinga.

As a result, Mavhinga had to resign from his chairmanship saying personal interests were reigning against institutional values.

“I am stepping aside immediately to stop smear campaigns that this struggle for institutional values is just about personal interests.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the use of violence in all forms and the politicisation of administrative issues and now realise that the only way to save the best interests of the organisation is to step aside as I hereby do now,” said Mavhinga in his resignation statement.

The discussion was jointly organisation by CiZC in partnership with Election Resource Centre (ERC) to discuss the issue of electronic voting system and how Zimbabwe can benefit from such a system.

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