Cheers mark constitution conference opening

HARARE - Excitement, anticipation and dance took centre stage at the opening of the constitution Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference yesterday as delegates cheered the country’s political gladiators.

First to receive a standing ovation from the cross-party gallery was Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as he strode to his seat at the high table.

He was immediately followed by President Robert Mugabe, whose supporters drowned the conference hall chanting him praises.

The situation seemed palpable with almost chaotic scenes as rival delegates tried to outdo each other.

High-profile officials from both MDC and Zanu PF also joined in with some mimicking the “Zora butter” dance, which is synonymous with sports fans and music revellers.

Delegates were driven into near delirium after music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi performed a moving rendition of his new song on the Constitution “Bumbiro remutemo” that saw Mugabe and Tsvangirai singing along and joining in the dancing.

Originally not scheduled to speak, Mutambara grabbed the opportunity with both arms and serenaded the delegates with his bombastic and verbose statements.

For this he got a standing ovation with even Tsvangirai acknowledging the robotics professor’s intellect.
“That is the problem with professors, you give them a chance and they take it,” Tsvangirai said of Mutambara.

Speakers at the conference lightened the occasion throwing in jokes, with people laughing, for a moment forgetting the political rivalry that exists between the parties.

“That boy (Mutambara) used to abuse and throw stones at me during his days at the University of Zimbabwe, now he is mature and honai gede-gede taatose matombo torohwa tiri tose zvino (now we are in it together we work together).Those are things that happen,” said Mugabe, struggling to contain laughter and sending the gallery into rapture.

Copac co-chairs Douglas Mwonzora and Paul Mangwana spoke of their “twin” alliance with a synchronised preview of their trials and tribulations in coming up with the draft charter.

Mwonzora had delegates in stitches after acknowledging the names that Copac (the parliamentary committee mandated with crafting the governance charter’s) officials have gained since 2009.

“We learnt a few lessons, that when you are doing something important you receive a lot of names from your colleagues from your party and from the nation. You may be called sellout, you may be called mafia, you may be called musketeers,” he said.

“But we took comfort from the fact that even during the liberation struggle, nationalists were given various names by their rivals, terrorists and so on, but we knew that what is good will always prevail,” said Mwonzora.

Taking a cue from Mwonzora and showing that he was in the loop on the goings on and the most current street lingo, Mugabe said the Principals to the coalition GPA were sometimes being referred to as the “unholy trinity”. - Bridget Mananavire

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