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NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
Demonstration broken up by police
September 01, 2004
HARARE - At least
15 people were reportedly arrested and eight injured when pro-democracy
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) protestors clashed with police
during demonstrations against the Zimbabwe government's proposed Non-Governmental
Under the Public Order and Security Act, the police must approve all gatherings
but had turned down an NCA request to hold the demonstration.
An NCA official, Ernest Mudzengi, said exact figures of how many people
had been arrested and/or injured were still being compiled. IRIN was unable
to get comment from the police.
"We were engaged in running battles all over the city and, at this time,
it is still too early to provide exact figures. However, we were united
in the belief that the proposed NGO bill is a mischievous piece of legislation
and would be a serious assault on our basic freedoms," said Mudzengi.
The NCA had earlier managed to deliver a letter to the South African High
Commission calling for the country's diplomatic intervention in Zimbabwe's
"The struggle for an open democracy in Zimbabwe would very much benefit
from the support of the South African government. We seek your support
in our quest for a more open and tolerent society," read part of the petition.
NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said he thought that South Africa, the regional
superpower, could positively influence Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
"We believe that President Robert Mugabe will change his oppressive approach
if he were approached by the South African government in a frank and honest
manner," he said.
The impending NGO bill seeks to deny registration to NGOs receiving foreign
funding for the "promotion and protection of human rights, and political
According to the government, the proposed legislation would ensure that
NGOs were governed and administered properly, and used donor and public
funds for the purpose for which they were established. But critics allege
the bill will result in a clampdown on civil society.
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