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Opposition Arrests Continue in Zimbabwe as Strike Call Flops

Despite a rare moment of harmony in parliament Tuesday between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, arrests of opposition personalities in Zimbabwe continue. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA that a founding leader of the protest group Women of Zimbabwe Arise is still in detention after her arrest on Tuesday.

Since she helped found the protest group Women of Zimbabwe Arise four years ago, Magodonga Mahlangu has been arrested many times. She was picked up again on Tuesday on her way into the center of Zimbabwe's second largest city Bulawayo. This was hours before the two factions of the divided opposition MDC united in parliament to support the ruling ZANU-PF's proposal for a constitutional amendment which may lead to a new constitution for Zimbabwe.

The state press and opposition legislators both hailed the moment of unity. A spokesman for the MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said the opposition is not selling out, but had to support the amendment, because it could lead to a new constitution with better laws. He said the crisis in Zimbabwe needs a resolution because people are suffering from a lack of the basics necessary for life.

Brian Raftopoulos, a prominent Zimbabwean political analyst, said Wednesday the amendment is a confidence building exercise and part of the South African-backed mediation between the two political parties.

Despite the moment, repression continues and, on Wednesday, Mahlangu was still in detention but had seen her lawyers.

When she was picked up, she was held in a cell with activists from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. The ZCTU had called for a two-day national strike beginning Wednesday, but few workers heeded their call.

Last week, the MDC in Harare reported that Jabulani Chiwoka, who intended to stand in rural elections next year, was stabbed to death in Marondera, a small town 120 km southeast of Harare.

One of his associates, Tafirenyika Nyandoro, was injured in the attack. The MDC said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is investigating.

Police were not available for comment Wednesday on the latest arrests.