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Zimbabwe Civic Activists Seek Consensus On Constitutional Compromise


Zimbabwean civil society organizations troubled by the opposition’s bargain with the ruling party on an amendment to the constitution were set to hold what they called a stakeholders meeting Saturday in Bulawayo to establish a common position.

The National Constitutional Assembly, a leading civic group, has called the opposition pact with ZANU-PF a “betrayal” of democratic principles. But other civic groups were saying that while they were displeased with the Movement for Democratic Change's compromise, they were inclined to give the opposition the benefit of the doubt.

Civil society sources said the opposition has been working overtime to explain the decision to work with the ruling party to pass the amendment as a step toward ensuring that the elections coming up next year will be free and fair.

Civic activists said NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku could find himself isolated if he insists that nothing short of a new constitution is acceptable now. Civic groups will also examine progress to date in crisis talks being mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, which NGOs feel have been shrouded in too much secrecy.

Coordinator Gordon Moyo of the Bulawayo Agenda, organizer of the meeting, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that activists will consider whether the MDC deal with ZANU-PF is consistent with their shared principles.

National Constitutional Assembly Director Ernest Mudzengi said his group is not being confrontational in contending that the opposition abandoned its principles.

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