25 July 2007

Zimbabwe: Scores of NCA Activists Arrested And Beaten During Countrywide Demonstrations

Scores of activists from the pressure group National Constitutional Assembly were arrested on Wednesday, during countrywide demonstrations to raise awareness of the need for a new constitution. It's reported police used force to disperse the crowds and many people were assaulted. NCA coordinator Tapera Kapuya said there were protests in Harare, Bulawayo, Kwekwe, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Marondera.

He said in Masvingo 23 people were arrested and charged for public disorder. Kapuya said another 20 had been detained in Masvingo but they were still to be charged. 17 activists were arrested in Gweru, and the Mutare home of NCA field officer Bernard Dube was raided by suspected state security agents. Kapuya said Dube was also abducted and his whereabouts are unknown. Information was not available on the arrests in Harare and Bulawayo at the time of broadcast.

The NCA coordinator said the protestors were also distributing educational literature about the consequences and implications of the 18th amendment to the constitution, which the government is proposing.

NCA chairperson Dr. Lovemore Madhuku described amendment no.18 as 'treacherous and contemptuous' when he addressed protestors in Harare. He said: "Zimbabwe needs a constitution that entrenches human rights and freedoms, ensures a free and open society and an electoral system that gives citizens power to elect leaders who are responsive to their needs."

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