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NCA presents petition to the South African Embassy
Sebastian Chiweshe
September 02, 2004

POLICE in Zimbabwe have thwarted two demonstrations which the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) had planned to stage in Harare but the civic organisation managed to petition the South African Embassy asking Pretoria to intervene in the political turmoil in Zimbabwe.

Five member delegation led by the NCA's advocacy chairperson George Mkhwanazi handed a petition to the South African embassy before the police dispersed the group which had gathered outside the embassy building.

"The struggle for an open democracy in Zimbabwe would very much benefit from the support of the South African government," reads part of the petition signed by the NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku. "We seek your support in our quest to for a more open and tolerant society.

"We believe that President Mugabe will change his oppressive approach if he were approached by the South African government in a frank and honest manner. Zimbabweans therefore seek the support of South African government and that of the rest of the SADC governments in our struggle against such oppressive laws as our constitution, POSA, AIPPA and the proposed NGO Bill."

An official at the embassy confirmed that Jeremiah Ndou, the South Africa ambassador to Zimbabwe had received the petition.

"I have not read the petition but the ambassador met the NCA delegation;" he said. Ndou could not be reached for comment.

As the five member delegation was moving out of the South Africa embassy building police in plain clothes from the PISI section led by notorious Percy Ndowo asked everyone who was milling around to disperse serve for journalists after they had produced their accreditation cards. It was a sad day for those who wanted to apply for South African visas. Even the journalists were asked who had informed them of the demonstrations.

After that the NCA group numbering about 400 caught the police force with its pants down and gathered at the main Post Office were they clashed with the police leaving seven people seriously injured and 32 arrested. Police was waiting for the NCA to gather at the Parliament Building as it had advertised in the Press.

Those injured were (are) being attended to at a private clinic. While those arrested are yet to be located were they were taken to.

"We have been to the Harare Central Police Station but not even one of them is there," said Jessi Majome, the NCA spokesperson. "We will have a post mortem of today's activities and we will see what to do next. But I am sure the message was loud and clear: we need democracy. "We were happy that Ndou gave us an audience."

But as to whether Mugabe's regime had the message is another question. The regime has recently said it will not struck down the NGO Bill or repeal POSA and AIPPA.

Those who demonstrated had placards written: "Repeal POSA and AIPPA," "NGO Bill is Anti-NGOs and "Struck Off the NGO Bill."

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