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Experts Debate Zimbabwe Opposition Strategy On Constitutional Amendment

The decision by Zimbabwe's opposition to cooperate with the ruling party in passing a constitutional amendment bill in the lower house of the Harare parliament this week is dividing public opinion that was previously was strongly opposed to the measure.

Critics including Chairman Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly have accused the Movement for Democratic Change of committing a "betrayal," while others see the compromise bill hammered out under the cover of South African-mediated negotiations as a step forward towards ending the crisis.

One sticking point for many is the lack of clarity on how expanding both houses of parliament will enhance the democratic process or ensure that the March 2008 presidential and general elections will be free and fair.

Some say the MDC should renegotiate the deal or call for an entirely new constitution that could promote more democratic government and the rule of law.

VOA sought opinions on the legislation, the political process and the Movement for Democratic Change's strategy from two experts: Executive Director David Chimhini of the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust and Advocacy Officer Busani Ncube of the Bulawayo Agenda.

Ncube told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the outcome in parliament was a disappointment, so his group has called a stakeholders conference in Bulawayo next week to draw out public opinion on the matter.

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