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Election of Women's Assembly Exposes Cracks In Zimbabwe Opposition Faction

A faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change drew public criticism Monday, from its members and supporters, over the manner it conducted an extraordinary congress in Bulawayo, to elect a new women's assembly.

As of Monday evening, it was still unclear whether or not a new women's assembly had been established to replace the one led by chairwoman Lucia Matibenga, dissolved earlier this month.

Many accused the opposition group led by founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, of frustrating the election process by withholding information of the venue for the congress until the last minute, and then changing it without notice.

On Sunday, several hundreds had gathered at the Emakhandeni Hall, initially named as the venue for the congress, when they discovered that other delegates were gathered to vote at a restaurant in the city center owned by the faction's Vice President Thokozani Khupe. However, police blocked many from entering the premises on the grounds that it was not the designated meeting place.

As a result, voting took place at both venues, with delegates at Emakhandeni Hall voting to reinstate Matibenga and some of her executives, while those the restaurant reportedly voted Theresa Makone as the new leader.

Correspondent Netsai Mlilo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, reported from Bulawayo that the confusion surrounding the congress had created tension among members, and anger at the leadership.

Senior Programs Officer Pedzisayi Ruhanya of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri, that the situation facing the women’s assembly at a party level, was a test case for Tsvangirai to show how he would handle crises at a national level.

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