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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 14:14 GMT
Zimbabwe to get tough on ID cards
Riot police
Police prevented a rally in Harare on Wednesday
The Zimbabwean Government has announced plans to introduce legislation allowing it to jail or fine people who move about without identity cards.

The projected legislation, reported by the official Herald newspaper, is the latest in a string of restrictions which critics say are designed to hamper the political opposition ahead of presidential elections early next year.

Four years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that such a measure would be unconstitutional, but the paper quoted the government as saying it was designed to combat increasing crime and terrorism.

It has recently accused the opposition of carrying out acts of terrorism.

On Wednesday, the government said it would introduce tough new security laws making a wide range of offences punishable with life imprisonment or death.

Bulawayo clashes

Political violence has erupted again in the volatile townships of Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo between supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Last night two houses belonging to MDC officials were burnt and the occupants were severely beaten by a mob.

Several other houses of suspected opposition supporters were stoned by the mob forcing many residents to flee to other areas of the city.

Violence erupted in Bulawayo last week after a war veterans leader, Cain Nkala, was killed.


Meanwhile civil rights campaigners say the police arrested and detained 35 people trying to demonstrate against changes to electoral laws on Wednesday in the capital, Herare.

Nkala's funeral
Cain Nkala's killing inflamed tensions in Bulawayo

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) had planned to march on parliament on Wednesday, accusing President Robert Mugabe's government of trying to take away democratic rights by introducing new arrangements for next year's presidential election.

They say the arrests took place in Harare's city centre on Wednesday afternoon as heavily armed riot police easily dispersed a small crowd gathered for the protest action.

The NCA, a coalition of trade unions, church groups and human rights organisations are also opposed to plans to stop pressure groups from taking part in voter education and election monitoring and making the government's sponsored electoral commission the sole authority instead.

NCA spokesman Douglas Mwonza said 18 of those arrested are their members.

Police have confirmed the detention of 17 people belonging to the NCA.

The BBC's Lewis Machipisa
explains what the new proposals involve
The BBC's Thabo Kunene
"Armed policemen deployed in the townships failed to stop the violence"
See also:

16 Nov 01 | Africa
War vets rampage through Bulawayo
12 Oct 01 | Africa
Mugabe opponent attacked
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