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Four Zimbabwean Civic Activists Arrested In Harare Demonstration

Police in Harare, Zimbabwe, arrested four members of the National Constitutional Assembly on Wednesday while another seven were injured when authorities disrupted a demonstration by the civic group demanding a new constitution.

Some 300 placard-waving NCA members gathered at Africa Unity Square in the center of Harare and headed toward Fourth Street when they were intercepted by police.

NCA National Youth Secretary Alois Dzvairo told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the march was also called to protest the shroud of secrecy enveloping South African-mediated negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition, particular as concerns a reported new draft constitution.

NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku meanwhile took issue with with reports quoting him as questioning the leadership of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Madhuku told reporter Brenda Moyo he was misquoted by, which published an interview quoting him as questioning Tsvangirai's judgment and fitness to govern should a democratic transition come about in Zimbabwe.

NewZimbabwe stood by the quotes, some of which VOA published having failed to reach Madhuku for confirmation as to their authenticity.

On Wednesday, Madhuku said he "wouldn't comment on the internal leadership of the MDC," but he reiterated that his group disagrees with the opposition on its approach to constitutional issues and how it is handling South African-mediated crisis talks.

Referring to the NewZimbabwe interview which he disavowed, Madhuku attributed the comments to what he described as "so many people out there who are unhappy with the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai and many people out there who have been disillusioned with the recent developments in the MDC led by Tsvangirai."

Though nominally allies in Zimbabwe's broad democratic movement, the Movement for Democratic Change and much of Zimbabwe's civil society have fallen out over the opposition's decision to vote with the ruling party to pass a constitutional amendment that made a number of major changes in the country's electoral framework.

Madhuku's NCA has been particularly critical of the MDC on such issues.

Tsvangirai and senior officials in his faction of the MDC have been beleaguered in the past month by internal dissent over the removal of party stalwart Lucia Matibenga from her former post as chairwoman of the faction's women's wing. The election of Theresa Makone as the new head of the women's wing at a congress in Bulawayo late last month whose legitimacy was also questioned, has not laid the issue to rest.

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