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WOZA Stages Peaceful Protests Demanding New Constitution

  • Chris Gande

About 250 members of activist group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), staged peaceful protests Monday in Bulawayo demanding a draft constitution and calling for the holding of an all-stakeholders conference that will lead to a referendum.

None of the protesters, who were in five groups, were arrested as they marched to the offices of the state-controlled newspaper, Chronicle, where they dumped posters inscribed with their demands.

The three principals in the government of national unity have declared a deadlock over the constitution-making process after Zanu PF came up with its own version of a draft document produced by the parliamentary constitution committee a few weeks ago.

WOZA co-ordinator Jenny Williams said they want politicians to stop using the draft constitution as a tool for garnering support at the expense of the masses who contributed towards drafting it.

The two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube have approved the draft document.

Zanu PF wants a constitution that gives the president more powers. Among the provisions of a draft constitution submitted last month by the government-appointed committee is one that mandates the president to share power with parliament.

The former ruling party is against introducing dual citizenship, homosexual rights and the U.S. style of having running mates in an election. It is also wants the death penalty to be upheld in the new constitution, among other issues.

The MDC parties have rejected the Zanu PF demands and declared a deadlock in the constitution-making process. President Jacob Zuma, mediator in the Zimbabwe political crisis, has been invited by Mr. Tsvangirai and Ncube to intervene.