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Madhuku arrested at constitutional demo
August 05, 2005

ZIMBABWEAN police foiled a public protest for a new constitution and arrested National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, on Thursday afternoon.

Also arrested alongside him was Bright Chibvuri, a journalist with The Worker, a newspaper published by the country's biggest labour movement -- the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

A third man identified as Cornelius Ruwoko was also dragged away by armed officers from the riot squad who were called in to disrupt the marchers.

Madhuku and his group planned to stage a demonstration outside the Harare International Conference Centre where the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs was holding a consultative public meeting on planned amendments to the country's constitution.

The planned amendments include barring individuals whose land has been seized from making a court challenge except on the amount of compensation.

It also seeks to re-establish a lower house of parliament to be known as the Senate and imposition of travel restrictions on Zimbabweans suspected of "engaging in terrorist training abroad".

Economic commentator, Dr Alex Magaisa, said the new legislation posed a serious danger to Zimbabwe's failing economy, warning parliament against endorsing the amendments.

Said Dr Magaisa: "Parliament must think long and hard before passing these dangerous amendments into law for they are mortal danger to the economy. By ousting the jurisdiction of the courts (in relation to the land amendment), the government is effectively violating the time-honoured principle of separation of powers.

"The confidence of investors will decline further while the credit rating of the country and businesses will be drastically reduced. The danger of allowing a change of this character will in future open the way for the state to violate the law with reckless abandon."

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