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Police break up NCA demo

Staff Writer

BATON-wielding riot police on Wednesday broke up pro-democracy demonstrations in the capital, arresting at least 44 activists, organisers said yesterday.

dana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>About 300 supporters of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a coalition of church, labour and civic rights groups, managed to stage sporadic protests as they ran through the streets, waving banners and chanting slogans denouncing a proposed law that will prohibit non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from receiving foreign funding for projects related to human rights and governance.

The Bill, expected to be tabled in parliament next month, requires compulsory registration for NGOs.

NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku yesterday said about 44 people were arrested in Harare, but full details were not yet available. Witnesses said they saw police round up “many” people and force them into police vehicles.

“Some of our members were injured during a police charge and 44 have been arrested,” said Madhuku. “I have myself been told to report to Harare Central police station to answer questions about organising an illegal protest. I have decided not to go there because all of the three officers who called me failed to identify themselves.”

Earlier in the day the NCA delivered a petition to South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jeremiah Ndou.

“We believe that President Robert Mugabe will change his oppressive approach if he were approached by the South African government in a frank and honest manner,” read the petition.

l Meanwhile, Norton police yesterday arrested two human rights officials for allegedly mobilising Porta Farm residents to resist government’s directive to vacate the farm.

An official of Amnesty International, Obert Chinhamo, and Masanho Maruwacha, an official with the Non-Violent Action for Social Change (NOVASC) were still held at Norton Police Station at the time of going to press.

The human rights defenders had gone to Porta Farm to assess the situation after hearing reports that riot police and a Zanu PF-aligned group, Chipangano, were evicting Porta Farm residents, disregarding a temporary relief order issued by the High Court.

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