New constitution or else – NCA threatens

HARARE - A pro-democracy group is threatening more protest action against President Robert Mugabe if steps are not taken to start meaningful constitutional reform.
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an ad-hoc pro-democracy alliance of trade unions, human rights a

nd legal support and advocacy groups, has given President Mugabe until early next month to respond to their concerns or face a “peaceful march” to Munhumutapa Building, Mugabe’s Office on Samora Machel Avenue.
The NCA’s direct demand to Mugabe comes after the organisation delivered a petition to Parliament last week in a demonstration, which was broken up by riot police in Africa Unity Square.
The theme of the demonstration demanding constitutional reform was: “The Supreme Law of the Land is Illegitimate”.
Previous attempts by pro-democracy reformers and other organisations, such as student and labour unions, to air their grievances have been broken up by riot police.
The NCA is currently embroiled in a High Court action challenging the legitimacy of the 17 times amended constitution which has given Mugabe ultimate executive, judicial and legislative control of government, thus entrenching the prevailing political status quo.
The alliance petition included demands to investigate torture of labour leaders in police custody and to respect the rule of law.
A recent report by Amnesty International cited numerous instances of torture and abuse by the police and the military, resulting in the serious injuries of several suspects.
Political analysts, who declined to be identified, said the petition was designed to put the government on the defensive about its track record of ignoring court decisions that it disliked.
“Government will probably not respond to the NCA’s list of demands by next month, and probably not ever. Any attempt by NCA to see the President will be broken up by police. The NCA strategy appears to be one of casting a spotlight on rule of law and human rights in the country, lest the international community become complacent about the situation in Zimbabwe,” said one analyst.
Most of the NCA’s grievances deal with demands for a new constitution, which Mugabe rejected last week Friday following the launch of a National Vision document by church leaders in Harare.
“We need an all-inclusive, people-driven process,” said the NCA in the petition .
Opposition parties have been harassed ever since the rejection by Zimbabweans in 1999 of government’s proposed draft constitution.

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