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Zimbabwe Opposition Feels Civil Society Pressure For Role In Crisis Talks


Officials of both factions of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change say it is not within their power to bring representatives of civil society organizations into South African-brokered crisis resolution talks with the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Civil society leaders have been demanding a place at the table in the talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki. Deputy chairwoman Thabitha Khumalo of the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition said civic groups have submitted proposals to both MDC factions as well as to the South African ambassador to Zimbabwe.

Civic groups also insist that there must be a new constitution in place before elections are held and that the electoral system must be broadly overhauled. Members of civil society have also argued that human rights should be at the center of the talks.

Certain groups have threatened to disassociate themselves from the opposition if they are not allowed to take part in the talks.

But Secretary General Welshman Ncube of the MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the question of civil society participation is not up to the MDC but to Mr. Mbeki as facilitator.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Morgan Tsvangirai MDC faction said civic groups are important agents of change and should have input, but that the talks as such were intended to be a process of negotiation between Zimbabwe's main political parties.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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