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Zimbabwe Opposition Satisfied with Strike Results - 2003-06-12

Almost a week has past since the strikes and mass protests called by the opposition in Zimbabwe. The government and media outlets controlled by the government say the protests did not achieve anything, but the opposition considers them very successful.

For the government media, the opposition-called protests were a big failure. The stories that they have been running invariably describe them as a "flop."

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, however, sees the action as a major victory.

"It is the first time in the history of struggles for human rights that a political party succeeds in shutting down the country for five days," said Paul Themba Nyathi, the party's spokesperson. "It is not just about shutting the country down for five days that we feel was a measure of victory, it is the confidence that sort of thing gave the people of Zimbabwe."

Mr. Nyathi said that the so-called "final push," as his party called last week's action, was meant to be part of a process to force President Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party to the negotiating table. And he said there has been a reaction from ZANU-PF

"I can tell you that we are receiving approaches from ZANU-PF for serious talks, and my view is that the mass stay-away, the final push, contributed immensely to that," Mr. Nyathi said.

But Mr. Nyathi was unwilling to give any details about possible talks between ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change about resolving Zimbabwe's political impasse.

The MDC spokesman also acknowledged that there are differing views within his party, but he denied that there are any rifts.

"There are always rich and robust debates within the MDC about any action, there are always different views," he said. "But at the end of it, there is always consensus about the way forward."

Speaking of the arrest of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr. Nyathi described it as an attempt by government to get his party to react, but he said the Movement for Democratic Change will not be provoked. He said it will take action at a time of its own choosing.