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  • Pro-democracy activists urge Zim poll strike
    October 20, 2005

    Harare - A Zimbabwean civic body which is advocating a new democratic constitution in the southern African country, Thursday called for a national boycott of upcoming elections to a newly created Senate.

    The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a loose alliance of political, church, women's and student groups, called the elections to create an upper house of parliament "meaningless" and a "waste of time and resources."

    "The NCA urges ordinary Zimbabweans to refuse to be complicit in Zanu-PF's exploitative grand scheme for diverting national and international attention from the root cause of suffering in Zimbabwe, that is a failed government," NCA spokesperson Jessie Majome told a news conference.

    The Senate will comprise 10 traditional chiefs, 50 elected senators and six appointed by President Robert Mugabe.

    Critics say the move will strengthen the parliamentary stranglehold of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).

    "The NCA urges all Zimbabweans to refuse to be abused for personal political gain and therefore refuse to vote in the meaningless senate elections," Majome said.

    Mugabe last month approved a controversial amendment to the country's constitution, the 17th since independence from white rule in 1980, which provides for the formation of the 66-member upper house of parliament.

    Senate elections have exposed divisions rocking the main opposition movement, which risks a split over whether to contest the polls.

    Planned talks between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) top six officials did not materialised Wednesday, with party officials saying that some members of the group were not available.

    Hours after the meeting was due to have taken place, MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda issued a statement accusing Tsvangirai of "willfully violating the constitution of the MDC" by disregarding results from a vote to decide whether the opposition party should contest the senate polls.

    The NCA said it watched with "disgust the feuding and bickering" in the MDC "a party that espouses democratic ideals".

    "Every Zimbabwean must refuse to be used and abused by aspiring politicians who wish to climb over them to reach the dictated senate... for personal wealth creation and self aggrandisement," the NCA said. - Sapa-AFP

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