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protesters interrupt PAP ceremony
September 16, 2004
Police pulled a security
cordon around the Pan African Parliament (PAP) opening ceremony in Midrand
this morning when protesters arrived to press for democratic reform in
About 300 protesters
carrying placards reading "We need food not violence", "Democracy
Now", and "Restore our basic freedom", toyi-toyied outside
the hall at Gallagher Estate where delegates and guests attended the opening
ceremony. A spokesperson said the group was made up of Zimbabweans who
fled their country for South Africa because of bad conditions.
They came to plead
with the PAP to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe to restore the
rule of law and human rights in his country, said Jabu Mkwanazi. A petition
handed out by the group spoke of a "chronic democratic deficit"
in Zimbabwe. "We have been stripped of our basic freedoms: freedoms
we fought a liberation war for," the document read.
It called for free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe, saying conditions were currently not conducive
to this. "Zimbabwe is our home, we want to go back, but we are prevented
from doing so by the criminal failings of a government which has lost
touch with the people and abandoned the principals which guided our liberation
agenda," the petition read.
"We are calling
on our fellow Africans to help us move toward a new beginning and create
a new Zimbabwe which is a true reflection of the one we envisaged when
we were fighting for independence." - Sapa
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