THE National Council of the Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe (NCDPZ) has postponed its annual congress after the President’s Office ordered a hotel in Masvingo to cancel the org
anisation’s bookings to create room for Zanu PF bigwigs coming for the party’s conference next month, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
The council had booked rooms at Great Zimbabwe Hotel for three days to accommodate about 150 delegates expected to attend its annual congress. The President’s Office allegedly ordered the hotel to cancel the bookings to accommodate Zanu PF delegates.
The council’s national president Alexander Phiri confirmed the cancellation and said he was informed by hotel staff that they had been ordered to accommodate ruling party officials in the rooms where his members were booked.
“We were told that the hotel management was ordered by officials from the President’s Office to cancel our bookings to make way for the ruling Zanu PF conference which we understand will be held in Masvingo during almost the same period that we were going to hold our congress,” said Phiri.
The NCDPZ had already made a down payment fee of about $20 million, with the balance to be paid after the congress that was expected to begin on Tuesday next week.
“We are obviously disappointed by this forced move by the ruling party as we had secured Great Zimbabwe Hotel well in advance and had even made a down payment of $20 million for the congress,” Phiri said.
An official at Great Zimbabwe Hotel confirmed the cancellation but referred the Independent to the manager who promised to return the call but did not do so.
The move has forced the council to re-schedule its meeting to Bulawayo a week later than the original schedule.
Phiri said the postponement of the congress was likely to create communication problems for his organisation’s members who come from remote areas since it would take a lot of time to notify them of venue and date changes.
“In fact, the choice of the congress dates was deliberate as we also wanted it to coincide with the commemoration of the United Nations International Day for Disabled Persons on December 3.
“We feel angry that all these opportunities will be lost by moving, and we are having to incur more expenses communicating with our rural-based members. Such heavy-handedness from the seat of government is not necessary, moreso when it is applied to people with disabilities,” Phiri said.