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Constitutional Reform Advocate Madhuku Held on Protest Charges

Police arrested National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku and two other men Thursday at the International Conference Center in Harare as they prepared to demonstrate against proposed changes to the constitution.

The group intended to protest as a parliamentary committee on legal affairs held a public hearing on amendments that will, among other provisions, re-institute a senate with 65 members – 20 to be appointed by President Robert Mugabe.

Arrested with Mr. Madhuku were Bright Chibvuri, a journalist with The Worker, a publication of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and Cornelius Ruwoko, whose organizational affiliation, if any, could not be determined.

Lawyer Alec Muchadehama, representing Dr. Madhuku, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe late Thursday that all three men would be held overnight on charges of organizing an illegal demonstration, then would be remanded to a special “law and order” unit that deals with prisoners accused of violations under the Public Order and Security Act, also known as POSA.

Meanwhile, citizens attending the parliamentary hearing inside the International Conference Center said all members of the proposed senate, if it is re-instituted, should be popularly elected and that none should be appointed by the president.

A special parliamentary committee on constitutional change heard the testimony by civic organizations and members of the public, as Harare correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reports.

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