In the news: Lovemore Madhuku

April 5, 2002

University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku's Cambridge doctorate was on the legal aspects of bank financing for companies in Zimbabwe. But, in Zimbabwe's recent turmoil, his expertise as a constitutional lawyer has been in demand in his role as chair of the National Constitutional Assembly, a pro-democracy coalition of churches, unions, human rights and student groups.

Starting tomorrow, the assembly will hold peaceful demonstrations about the conduct of last month's disputed presidential elections. Dr Madhuku was adamant that the demonstrations would go ahead despite threatening noises from Robert Mugabe. He said the possibility of arrests under the new Public Order Security Act would not deter NCA members.

Dr Madhuku was arrested in November and held without charge after leading a demonstration against repression and in protest at the death of a student who was allegedly strangled and thrown from a train by soldiers. In 2000, he was instrumental in the defeat of a Mugabe-backed constitution, and was a fierce critic of the forced resignation of chief justice Anthony Gubbay.

His high media profile has made him an obvious target for the ruling Zanu-PF party and its supporters. Within the university, his head of department, Welshman Ncube, deputy leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, is awaiting trial on treason charges arising from the alleged plot to assassinate president Mugabe.

Dr Madhuku told The THES last month: "Our work is closely monitored to ascertain what we are doing and to see if we are spending too much time on outside activities. We don't even bother to put in for promotion." His lack of personal security has failed to stop him from tackling the government head on. Eleven days after President Mugabe's inauguration for a new term of office, Dr Madhuku publicly dismissed the first cabinet meeting as constitutionally illegal.

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