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  • NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis

  • ZIMBABWE: Demonstration broken up by police
    IRIN News
    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 Organisations Bill.

    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 political crisis.

    "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 governance issues".

    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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