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Analysts See Harare's Political Lockdown As A Sign Of Desperation

The Zimbabwean government's move to quell its political opposition by imposing a three-month ban on political rallies amounts to an acknowledgment by the state that it is losing its appeal to the electorate, some analysts have concluded.

Since the turn of the year there have been waves of labor actions teachers, doctors and students, though strikes by teachers and doctors have recently been settled. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has threatened mass action in the months ahead if the government fails to address deteriorating economic conditions.

The Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai says it will seek relief in court from the ban on rallies, and the National Constitutional Assembly says it will send its members back into the streets to protest.

Though the Harare government seems to have pulled itself back from the abyss by averting a strike by civil servants while getting doctors and teachers back to work with a combination of pressure and inducements, the question remains: what now?

For some idea of what may be expected, reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with astute observers of Zimbabwean politics: Peter Kagwanja, director of democracy and governance programs at the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria, South Africa, and Dr. Reginald Matchaba-Hove, founder and chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a monitoring group.

Dr. Matchaba-Hove said the ban on rallies is simply unconstitutional.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...