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Ousted Head of Zimbabwe Opposition Women's Wing Refuses To Go Away

The Zimbabwean opposition faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai maintains that Lucia Matibenga has been removed from her former position as head of the formation’s women’s assembly, Matibenga refuses to recognize that removal or the election last month of a replacement, and now says that she is launching into electoral campaigning in the rural areas ahead of the 2008 elections.

Matibenga says her Women’s Assembly executive was “unconstitutionally” dissolved by the leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change faction last month.

The National Executive of the MDC faction, which failed to meet on Sunday as scheduled, has not yet reached consensus on the legality of that dissolution or the validity of an extraordinary women’s congress held recently in Bulawayo. Independent reports have described that congress as chaotic and democratically flawed.

Theresa Makone, the woman the faction says was elected chairman of the women’s assembly by that congress, also says she is gearing up for the elections.

Matibenga, who appealed to the high court after she was removed by the party leadership, would not disclose her next legal move in the dispute. But she told Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that she is concentrating on getting her election campaign work done with the limited resources at her disposal.

Meanwhile, faction leader Tsvangirai on Monday toured Harare's Hatcliff suburb and told reporters its residents were still feeling the effects of the state's 2005 eviction and demolition campaign dubbed Operation Murambatsvina ("Drive Out Rubbish").

Tsvangirai challenged the government of President Robert Mugabe to address what he said was a national housing crisis, as correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported.

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