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Civic Activists Reject Zimbabwe Opposition's Strategy Of Incremental Reform


Zimbabwean civil society activists said they planned to hold demonstrations around the country to express displeasure at a package of amendment legislation passed this week by parliament in what opposition politicians called a pro-democratic process.

National Coordinator Ernest Mudzengi of the National Constitutional Assembly, which seeks a new constitution and has criticized the political opposition for the compromises it has struck with the ruling ZANU-PF party in the context of South African-mediated crisis resolution talks, said his organization will organize protests nationally.

The crisis talks led this week to the passage of amendments to laws widely considered draconian and repressive, including the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and broadcast and election laws.

Officials of the Movement for Democratic Change say the amendments constitute an initial step in a longer-term reform process, and that they will contribute to making the upcoming presidential and legislative elections more free and fair.

But civic activists say the opposition and the ruling party failed to consult them on the amendments, and criticize both MDC factions for acquiescing in "cosmetic" changes.

Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition Senior Programs Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya told VOA reporter Patience Rusere the amendments don’t widen the democratic space.

But Legal Secretary Innocent Gonese of the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai responded that the amendments are a step towards free and fair elections given that the ruling party was initially opposed to any reform steps at all.

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