The Constitutional Parliamentary Committee, which is leading the constitution-making process, will today meet to decide on dates for the outreach programme, amid concerns of resurgent violence.
Sibanda’s meetings have heightened fears that war veterans, who have traditionally led violent campaigns on behalf of Zanu PF, could be mobilising.
A witness who attended some of the Manicaland meetings said Sibanda threatened that the constitution-making process was a matter of “life or death” for President Robert Mugabe’s party.
Sibanda on Wednesday confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that he was holding meetings in Manicaland in “defence of the country”.
He denied using threats.
Witnesses, however, maintained that Sibanda rounded up government workers, local headmen and chiefs for a meeting at Chimanimani Country Club on Tuesday last week after poor attendance marred his first attempt the previous day.
“On Monday, he accused chiefs and headman of relaxing while the country was being sold out. He told them that they should support the party’s position (Zanu PF) during the forthcoming constitution outreach programme and subsequent elections because they were receiving benefits from Zanu PF policies,” said the witness who asked for anonymity.
“The Tuesday meeting that started at 9am was held in the Chimanimani Rural Council boardroom and two representatives from each government department were forced to attend.”
The witness, who claimed to have written down Sibanda’s statements, quoted the war veterans leader as saying: “I want to assure you that this country is going to be defended and during the process of defending this country some people will die and some people will run.”
Sibanda is said to have spoken against any constitutional clause that would allow for the payment of compensation to white farmers who lost farms during the 2000 chaotic land reform programme.
Speaking to the Independent from Manicaland where he was still holding marathon meetings, Sibanda said the campaigns were meant to inform people of the importance of defending the country from “imperialist” Western countries.
“I did not threaten anyone. The person who gave you those recorded speeches is a liar. My message is that the country should be defended from foreigners who want to tell us what to do,” Sibanda said. “For them (foreign countries) to work in cahoots with another party here to remove another party in government is a form of aggression and that aggression should be resisted.”
Sibanda said the meetings would be held countrywide.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party has expressed concern that Sibanda could inflame tense political relations that have resulted in recent cases of violence associated with the constitution-making process.
MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said his party would demand an explanation from Sibanda because war veterans were funded by the government and should not abuse their office to stoke violence.
“War veterans are supposed to be the custodians of the values of our liberation and Independence. They brought the one man one vote democracy. We have no reason to believe that the gallant sons and daughters who fought for this noble cause can today turn into crocodile liberators,” said Chamisa.