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Opposition Civil Society Tries To Mobilize Zimbabwe's Grass Roots For Protests

Hoping to build on a recent wave of demonstrations, Zimbabwean civil society groups are developing a program of outreach to residents of provincial cities to mobilize grass-roots support against the government of President Robert Mugabe.

Groups such as the National Constitutional Assembly, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights were to hold a meeting in the Midlands town of Kwekwe on Tuesday, civic leaders said. The Zimbabwe National Students Union and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions were also to participate.

NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said a recent lull in street protests reflects a shift to organizational activities outside the capital in provincial cities like Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo. Organizing efforts are also slated in Mashonaland Central and East provinces, and the coalition intends to organize at the level of rural districts.

Madhuku told reporter Patience Rusere that: the NCA organizers are meeting with ordinary people "to persuade them to be courageous and join demonstrations."

Meanwhile, Movement for Democratic Change founding president Morgan Tsvangirai told supporters in Bulawayo on the weekend to brace for extended protests to force President Mugabe to step down. Correspondent Netsai Mlilo reported.

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