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Arrest of NCA members: a wanton act of repression
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
September 17, 2003

Today, Wednesday 17th September 2003, Dr Lovemore Madhuku and seven hundred (700) other members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) engaged in a demonstration calling for a democratic constitution in Zimbabwe. The demonstration, which was meant to end at the Parliament of Zimbabwe, could not be taken to its logical conclusion as the Zimbabwe Republic Police descended on the peaceful demonstrators, blocking them from expressing themselves at Parliament. In the process, Dr Madhuku and 150 other members of the NCA were arrested by the police.

The NCA deplores the arrest of Dr Madhuku and other NCA members as a wanton act of state brutality meant to muzzle free expression. At a time when the state is making it difficult for The Daily News to be registered, and at a time when the government is issuing threats to close down the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and other progressive organisations, we view the arrests of the NCA members as an attempt by the state to close down all avenues of free expression. The arrests testify to the fact that there is no democracy in Zimbabwe. There can be no democracy in a country where citizens are brutally denied the freedom to express themselves freely. Above all, there can be no democracy in a country that continues to be without a democratic constitution.

This latest act of repression should send a clear signal to Zimbabweans and members of the international community who must realize the extent to which President Robert Mugabe's government is not committed to democratic values. In the interest of democracy and good governance, democracy and development, the NCA calls upon the people of Zimbabwe to press President Mugabe's government towards initiating a constitutional reform process that can redeem the people of Zimbabwe from a bad system of governance that thrives on muzzling free expression.

Department of Information and Publicity

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