All posts by Jenni

18-year-old activist found; 82 in custody released

18-year-old WOZA activist, Clarah Makoni, returned to her home late last night. She had been missing since 8am when she had returned to Bulawayo Central Police Station to report following her arrest on Thursday. She had been arrested for taking food for those in custody into Luveve Police Station.

On arriving at Bulawayo Police Station, she was told that her name was not on the list and told to go home. On leaving the station, the young activist was approached by two plain-clothed men, who identified themselves as police officers and wanted her to show them where Magodonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams lived. They told her she was under arrest so she asked to make a phone call, whereby she phoned Mahlangu from a phone shop to let her know that she had been “arrested again”. They had a cream Kombi waiting nearby with two other officers inside, which they forced her into. The four plain-clothed officers then took her to Fairbridge police camp, approximately 20km out of Bulawayo, where police officers are taken to be “disciplined”.

She was shown torture rooms and told in great detail what would happen to her there. They then took her into the bush nearby and questioned her about Jenni Williams and where WOZA gets its money, at the same time, forcing her to watch other people being tortured by plain-clothed officers until 8.30 at night. The police told her to tell WOZA that they “don’t play with people”. When she kept insisting that she could not answer their questions, they decided she could go after being ‘punished’. She was then forced to crawl under an electric fence, causing her clothes to be torn and covered in mud. She then had to run through the bush to find her way back to the main road, where a passer-by found her in torn, filthy clothes and gave her a lift back to Bulawayo.

Clarah had been beaten in police custody on Thursday by Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya and Detective Assistant Inspector Tshuma, which had aggravated earlier injuries from beatings in February. As a result she was very ill, vomiting, and urinating blood. Upon arriving back in Bulawayo, she was taken for medical treatment. She is currently recovering from her ordeal.

The 82 members who had spent Thursday night in custody were released yesterday afternoon without being taken to court. Police will proceed by way of summons if they wish to pursue the matter. The entire group were charged under Chapter 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘causing a criminal nuisance’.

WOZA members are relieved that our Clarah has been returned to us. In this instance the power of love truly did overcome hatred. The entire episode only serves to highlight the depravity of a regime that finds it necessary to torture and abduct a young girl whose only ‘crime’ was feeding people in custody.

Williams and Mahlangu remain at Mlondolozi Prison

Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu remain at Mlondolozi Prison near Bulawayo after being remanded on charges of kidnap and theft.  An urgent High Court application appealing against the refusal of bail for the two has not yet been heard.  The two women are not in good health, with Mahlangu suffering from arthritis of the spine, which causes her severe pain, since they are sleeping on the cement floor with no mattresses and have no warm water for bathing. 

As remand prisoners they are allowed one ten-minute visit a day, and WOZA has been able to take food and medications to them during these visits.  If there are sympathisers who would wish to visit them, we ask them to contact WOZA, so that arrangements can be made for them to accompany the daily trip which takes supplies.

We urge supporters to continue to telephone the prison to request that the two be treated according to Zimbabwean and international law during their stay in custody.

Useful numbers are:
Regional Prisons Headquarters (Bulawayo): +263 9 71458/71468
Mlondolozi Prison: +263 9 64228

Williams and Mahlangu granted bail

This morning, in a long-awaited bail hearing Justice Maphios Cheda of the Bulawayo High Court granted Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu bail on a surety of $200 each. The only condition is that they not interfere with any state witnesses. They have not been asked to surrender travel documents or even to report to the police. They will appear for remand on Thursday, October 6.

It is clear from this ruling that the judge did not take the case against them very seriously, and we wonder why it took so long for a bail hearing date to be set down. Was the state attempting simply to punish the two by arresting and holding them on flimsy charges, knowing that in fact they have committed no crime? If so, it would not be the first time this has happened. WOZA is dismayed that under the Government of National Unity such a perversion of justice continues, with elements of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the justice system allowed to operate untrammelled without the slightest concern for the basic principles of law and human rights. We hope that there will be no further delays and they will be released promptly, as is their right.

WOZA would like to thank all those supporters who showed solidarity with Williams and Mahlangu through the past two weeks. Together we can promote a more democratic society in which rights are respected and social justice prevails.

ENDS

WOZA members remain in custody; concerns for safety of 18 year old girl

82 members spent last night in police custody. The four mothers and a minor reported at 8 am this morning as instructed.

ALERT! The young girl, Clarah Makoni, arrested yesterday with Angeline Karuru, as they took food to Luveve Police Station is missing. She was moved to Central Police station and beaten and threatened with torture by electricity but was eventually released last night. Karuru was also beaten and tortured but remained in custody and was released at midday today (Friday). Makoni was told to report back to Bulawayo Central Police Station at 8am this morning and did so, although she was obviously very ill and was vomiting.

Last contact with her was a phone call at 8:17 am this morning from a Bulawayo number 69661. She indicated that she was feeling unwell but had been assigned two police officers who were accompanying her to show them the home of Magodonga Mahlangu. Mahlangu advised her to tell the officers she was unwell and to insist on being taken for medical attention. Nothing has been heard from her since although lawyers have been informed by police that she has been released with her colleague.

Makoni was also tortured during the Valentine’s Day arrests in February, suffering inflamed kidneys and yesterday’s beating could have aggravated these past injuries.

The rest of the group are still in custody. They are expected to be taken to court this afternoon but given past experience of police delaying tactics, the group is prepared to spend the weekend in custody.

12 women arrested in Bulawayo on International Day of Peace; Williams and Mahlangu remanded in custody to Mlondlozi Prison

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu and 10 other women were arrested in Bulawayo on Wednesday, September 21while attempting to commemorate the International Day of Peace with hundreds of WOZA women and men. As well as those arrested, over 20 others were injured after being beaten by riot police.

A planned peaceful demonstration did not take place due to heavy police presence all around the city centre. Several separate groups had intended to set out from various starting points and converge on the Mhlahlandlela government complex to present their preliminary report on transitional justice to the Governor of Bulawayo Province. But police patrol cars were circling around all the start off points and members of the riot police, in full riot gear, assaulted anyone suspected of being a demonstrator. It is unfortunate that members of the general public were also attacked by the police who were beating people indiscriminately and shouting ‘uraya’, meaning ‘kill’ in Shona.  One male bystander was hospitalised as a result of the beatings that he received and remains in Mpilo Hospital.  Over 20 members required medical attention for injuries sustained during the beatings, and several were sent for X-ray as they appeared to have fractured bones. It was fortunate that all proved rather to have suffered severe bruising, which in itself causes great pain and reduced mobility.

The arrested members were all due to be charged with criminal nuisance under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. As is WOZA practice, those arrested refused to secure their release by paying ‘acknowledgment of guilt’ fines. As it was, the prosecutor declined to press charges against ten of the women and they were released without charge.

However, further charges were laid against Williams and Mahlangu.  They now face the astonishing charges of kidnap and theft. These are based on allegations made by a former WOZA employee who had been previously dismissed.  He later returned to WOZA premises, broke in, and stole a substantial amount of property, some of which was recovered when a sympathetic relative led WOZA members to the place where the property was being kept. 

It is probable that the malicious allegations have been used by the police to lay charges without any investigation of the true facts of the matter or genuine suspicion of guilt, merely to punish the WOZA leaders for successfully mobilizing members to defend their rights.  Officer George Levison Ngwenya of the Bulawayo Central Law and Order department, who has been previously named and shamed by WOZA for his brutal handling of arrested WOZA members, may be using these spurious allegations as his way of getting even.  Having failed in the past to secure convictions of WOZA members on charges related to activities in defense of human rights, he may now have devised a new strategy of seeking to pin common criminal charges on the women. 

On Friday, September 23, Williams and Mahlangu were brought to court on these charges, refused bail, and remanded at the notorious Mlondolozi Prison, part of the Khami prison complex, until October 6, a period of two weeks.  Lawyers have filed an urgent application to the High Court appealing the denial of bail.

The theme for this year’s celebrations was to be ‘PEACE AND DEMOCRACY: MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD’. WOZA notes with great concern that the arrests of its members occurred on a day that was meant to celebrate and encourage peace and democracy.  WOZA asks where is the peace when the general public is beaten? Where is the peace when non- violent protesters are beaten? Our voices shall not be silenced, and we will continue to work against all odds to establish genuine peace and democracy in Zimbabwe.

WOZA is also very concerned about how Williams and Mahlangu will be treated in Mlondolozi Prison. The last time that they were detained in the prison in 2008 they were subjected to abuse at the hands of the prison authorities.

We ask that our friends and supporters phone the authorities at Mlondolozi and ask them not to mistreat Williams and Mahlangu and to respect their rights as remand prisoners as laid out by the Zimbabwe Prisons Act.

Regional Prisons Headquarters (Bulawayo): +263 9 71458/71468
Mlondolozi Prison: +263 9 64228

 

 

 

 

82 members remain in custody overnight

It has been confirmed that 82 members are in custody in Bulawayo this evening following arrests after protests at ZESA offices. Others arrested were released this afternoon. Four mothers with babies were released into their lawyer’s custody and are required to report back to Bulawayo Central tomorrow morning.

28 are being held at Bulawayo Central, 10 at Sauerstown, 34 at Queen’s Park and 10 at Mzilikazi.

Disturbing reports have emerged that the 18 members who were being held at Luveve Police Station were made to strip naked, spending the whole day in a state of undress. When two members of the WOZA support team attempted to bring food into the group, they too were arrested. One of these young girls, aged 18, was tortured by Detective Assistant Inspector Tshuma and Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya of CID Law and Order. She was beaten and an electric cord was tied around her waist with threats that they would plug it in if she did not divulge where the money to buy the food had come from. She was later released and has since received medical attention for her injuries. She also delivered a message from DAI Tshuma and DS Ngwenya that Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu would be beheaded when next caught by police and WOZA members would never see them again.

Lawyers were not informed that members were being taken to Mzilikazi and the whereabouts of the group being held at Mzilikazi was only discovered at 8pm after a team went from police station to police station trying to find the missing members. As a result, this group did not receive any food for dinner. They actually have not eaten all day as the entire group was also denied food at lunchtime, even though the lawyer had received permission that food could be brought in. The head of CID Law and Order at Bulawayo Central, G Ndlovu chased those with the food away. Some food was taken and locked away in Ngwenya office. There is no food available for those in police custody, as government does not have budget for food.

Another incident occurred when WOZA Co-ordinator, Jenni Williams was attempting to deliver food to Bulawayo Central. DAI Tshuma came upon Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu parked ready to off-load food. Tshuma, who was driving a blue van, blocked Williams’ vehicle that had to manoeuvre to get away.

It is unclear what charges have been brought against the group, if any, but some have already been fingerprinted and some forced to respond to charges without a lawyer present.

Police phone numbers are:
Bulawayo Central: (+263 9) 72515 / 61706
Mzilikazi: (+263 9) 202908 / 212905
Queens Park: (+263 9) 22641/2
Sauerstown: (+263 9) 200960 / 218432

Heavy police presence ignored as hundreds march but 20 arrested and released

Twenty members have been arrested in Bulawayo around noon on 22 August 2011. These arrests followed protests to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Company over poor service. Five hundred members, in four separate protests managed to converge on the Power station to deliver 63 000 signatures that remained after police seized the million signatures on the ‘anti abuse of power’ petition signatures. As they marched they distributed flyers. They also delivered ‘red cards’ and 4 mock coffins symbolising the need for ‘parliament to bury ZESA’ or remove the monopoly.

Town looked perfectly normal until 11:30 am when large contingent of police were deployed. Over one hundred police officers, many in full Riot police gear conducted arbitrary ‘stop and search’ of anyone walking. Other officers stopped every commuter omnibuses enroute into the CDB and searched handbags and people’s pockets. The police officers told some members that they were looking for WOZA material.

Plain clothed Criminal Investigating Officers were also present in their large numbers in the vicinity of the protest.  This dragnet resulted in 10 members from one area were arrested as they waited for their demonstration to start. Due to heavy presence of police around town, two of the four processions had to relocate members to their plan B beginning points. These last minute changes resulted in some members being too frightened to March or getting lost in the relocation.

As the 3 protests arrived at the Power stations officers, they dropped off the coffin and red cards and the petitions before dispersing. The fourth protest arrived as the ZESA office staff, were taking in the petitions and coffin, as the peaceful activists arrived carrying the 4th coffin, the staff actually thanked them for the coffin and took it into the office.  Passersby commended the activists for dealing ‘with ZESA’ and said at least the police ‘allowed’ them time to dance at the ZESA office.

After the protests two more groups, bringing the number of arrests to 20, with at least two members being handcuffed. Lawyers have been deployed.

WOZA national coordinator, Jenni Williams who participated in the procession issued this comment: ‘I wish to pay tribute to WOZA members for showing determination to deliver a strong telling off to ZESA despite being searched and intimidated’. With the huge presence of police, who were thoroughly searching each person, I did not expect any procession to get started, but members strategised. They sneaked into town all their reds cards, flyers, petitions with 63 000 signatures on petitions, 4 huge cardboard Coffins and placards and managed to march and deliver their message.

WOZA would also like to thank members of the public for saving at least 5 members from arrest by plain clothed police officers by tipping them off that the officers were talking about arresting them.  A similar protest on 10 May 2011, to the power station resulted in over 50 members being beaten.

Members of WOZA and MOZA did research on 1434 households last year and found that:
1. The average home spends 101 hours per month without ELECTRICITY that is over 15% of the hours in one month. This year power cuts have doubled.
2. Most people spend 3/4 of the cost of the ZESA bill buying alternative fuel so they can cook food!
3. More than 50% of homes pay a fixed charge, if they don’t pay they are cut off, they don’t get any discount for power cuts and are charged interest on back bills and estimate bills.
4.  Of the 1434 homes, only 42 homes had prepaid meters. These are some of the reasons WOZA are giving ZESA a red card – they are a danger to our pockets and they don’t have customer care or improve their service.  Millions of Zimbabweans are being robbed. ZESA is abusing POWER and parliament must remove the power monopoly. WOZA members want prepaid meters and affordable, fair electricity service, with actual bills and proper load shedding timetables.

more pictures available on WOZA facebook page and You Tube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfIXW1tUx5s

Victory for eight Pumula members and Trial starts for another six

Eight members Grace Moyo, Stella Chivunge, Sikhangezile Sibanda, and Simangaliphi Msimanga, 16yr old Cecelia Ncube, Siboniso Siziba, Miriam Moyo, and Memory Matandare arrested on 24 May 2011 appeared in Western Commonage Magistrate Court on the 15th of August 2011. The Magistrate Themba Chimiso ruled that the state must withdraw the charges before plea. This followed an application by the defence team from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights challenging the charges.

The accused were charged with two counts: 1. Intentional engaging in a disorderly or riotous conduct as defined in section 41(a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act 9:23. Alternatively Encumbering or obstructing the free passage along any street, road, throughfare, sidewalk or pavements as defined in section 46(2)(f) of the Criminal law codification and Reform act.

Lawyers Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa cited a Supreme Court ruling obtained by WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 protest related arrest. Lawyers argued that the charges were similar to the section 37 (1) a (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the subject of the Supreme Court ruling. As a result of this ruling, it followed that WOZA members should not be arrested under similar conditions as they infringe on their constitutional right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, section 20(1) and 21(1) of the Constitution. This argument rendered the Prosecutor D. Ndebele dumb and he had no option but to withdraw the charges before plea and record this in the docket. The members, including a 3 month old baby Rejoice had spent a night in custody. They were arrested during a peaceful protest in the Pumula suburb of Bulawayo at their local Electricity supply office demanding a decent electricity service. WOZA members were conducting a ‘power to poor people’ campaign targeting the Zimbabwe Electricity company which has a monopoly and overcharges its service.

Six members accused of writing messages about the poor electricity service appeared in Tredgold Magistrates Court, Bulawayo on 18th of August 2011. The six members, Janet Dube and 5 others were in the dock for most of the morning facing Trial. The Trial is being heard by Magistrate Roselyn Dube and the state prosecutor is Jeremiah Mutsindikwa. They are defended by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa. They are charged with contravening section 140 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23, malicious damage to property. The property being the tar road connecting the Pelandaba to the City centre. Malicious damage to property reads: Any person who, knowing that another person is entitled to own, possess or control any property or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that another person may be so entitled, damages or destroys the property. (a) intending to cause such damage or destruction; or (b) realising that there is a real risk or possibility that such damage or destruction may result from his or her act or omission; shall be guilty of malicious damage to property, and liable to. (i) a fine not exceeding level fourteen or not exceeding twice the value of the property damaged as a result of the crime, whichever is the greater; or (ii) imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty-five years; Two police officers who arrested the accused gave evidence. Shepherd Sipili and Lawrence Chademana’s evidence seemed to contradict their own written statements. They admitted arresting Sibekezele and Therezia, saying the other accused could have been arrested by other officers who were not in court. The trial will continue on the 1st of September where the Engineer Lengama Douglas Ncube from City Council must explain how he calculated the USD 349 damage apparently caused by the women’s graffiti. The six women were arrested on Wednesday 18 May 2011 by armed police officers. During their detention they were denied access to food and lawyers, split up and help in inhumane conditions in suburban police stations and held for longer that the 48 hours allowed by law. WOZA would like to thank Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights for delivering a legal victory for the Pumula members and look forward to another victory for the six accused of writing ‘power to poor people’.

Police leave bullets, admit ‘main agenda’ to rise and change government

HIGH Court Judge Nicholas Mathonsi ruled on 20 June 2011 that Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers who had forcefully occupied the Suburbs WOZA property should vacate and restore its full use to the organisation. high-court-ruling-20-june20111

WOZA monitored the situation and observed the police leave after 5:30pm on the 21st June. A cream double came and dropped off a short young officer known to WOZA members and after sometime came back to collect this detective in plain clothes and 2 uniformed details. They left the keys with the tenant stating that police officers were no longer allowed in the property.

WOZA leaders decided to enter the property and verify the state it had been left it and to remove the Ford pick-up that had been in the yard since the raid. A group of six entered the property through the kitchen door and were overcome by a strong smell in the kitchen which caused them to start gagging. The house was quickly closed and the vehicle was driven to a place of safety for the night. Three members immediately began to feel ill with dizziness; vomiting and diahorrea. The next morning the vehicle was offloaded and two bullets (38 mm pistol) were discovered with a metal object that looks like a bearing.

All six members then returned to the house and in the company of Human Rights lawyers and journalists determined that the smell was still present and further investigation throughout the house revealed more ‘planted’ material.

Inexplicably WOZA solidarity cards received from Amnesty members worldwide were removed out of their envelopes and replaced with condoms, both male and female.

A one page document entitled ‘Main Agenda’ had been planted with other WOZA material such as democracy, constitution books that members conduct civic education around. Several copies of this publication were also placed in the document folders of members who had been in the house at the time of the raid.

The state of the house was clearly consistent with information previously obtained on the first day that 20 to 30 plain clothes officers had searched the house.

The fireplace in the lounge shows that something was put up the chimney as there was black ash all over the lounge floor.

At first count many documents and two mobile phones, all food in the house is missing in defiance of the High court order that nothing must be removed.

By 11am, members started to feel very ill and one member fainted and had to be rushed to hospital so the house was closed up once again.

One member spent the day admitted and on a drip and seven other members were treated and discharged. When attending the private hospital, one journalist was also being attended with the same symptoms. Headache; dizziness and disorientation, weak limbs, nausea and diahorrea. The doctors prescribed antibiotics and anti-histamines for all those who attended.

It should be noted that police officers chased away a lawyer who attended the scene of the raid within 15minutes and that our court application was taken on the basis that no legitimate search could be conducted days after the invasion and it was stated that there was real fear that materials would be ‘planted’. Our worst fears were realised by the bullets and other metal objects, documents and condoms planted at the scene. A letter of complain has been sent to the police and court. letter-of-objection-to-law-and-order-22june-zlhr

We also note that had our national coordinator Jenni Williams who is the official organisation representative had attended the house as was constantly demanded over the 12 day invasion period, she would be facing fabricated ‘Treason’ charges. It was not out of guilt that Williams and others left through the back door on the day of the raid but out of knowing the track record of the police officers at the gate and years of members being harassed, threatened, abducted by Law and Order police officers namely George Levison Ngwenya, Lindani Mpofu, Zenzo Moyo and female officer S. G. Ndlovu, known as MaNdlo other whose surnames are Chikango, Nkomo, Chuchu.

Despite knowing their track record, they have stooped even lower than we imagined by poisoning us which is chemical warfare and by fabricating a document.

However, their words ring true in the words they wrote – “People of Zimbabwe we have been oppressed for a long time because we did not know about our right and international obligations. We have lost ubuntu. Dignity and respect because of the type of leadership we have. They are corrupt. They are stealing from people to make themselves rich.  .. We are tired of President Mugabe and he must go by all means. He is full of abuse of power with his ministers. He has no respect of law. (His own laws and International Laws).

They go on to confirm their deepest desires by saying, “Everyone wants him out. Let’s all rise and remove him now. When the date is fixed you will be told. We will do it. Others have done it in Libya, Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt.”

WOZA members stand firmly behind their founder and national coordinator Jenni Williams and ‘praise the lord’ for saving her from these fabricated charges. Williams and WOZA members are committed to a nonviolent struggle and do not believe that bullets can deliver dignity and true independence for all Zimbabweans to enjoy equally. We think that if anyone should be facing Treason charges it is the police officers named above who wrote the ‘main agenda’ document. But as mothers of the nation and through mothers’ eyes we understand that they are finally speaking the truth – we send them our love and say keep speaking out. We will expect their active support when Zimbabweans do what they have suggested in their Zimbabwe Republic Police ‘main agenda’. police-officers-main-agenda-document

Woza Moya March 2007

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9

In February 2007 WOZA turned FIVE and commemorated with five protests to launch the People’s Charter. Courageous Human Rights Defenders in Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare took to the streets. We congratulate Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare for their first protest and welcome them to the human rights defenders honour roll!

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recognised their work and awarded an International Women of Courage award to founder, Jenni Williams. The award reads ‘for her work to effect lasting social change and democratic reform in Zimbabwe by giving a voice to women through Women of Zimbabwe Arise.’ This award encourages us to work harder for a free and socially just Zimbabwe!

As WOZA turns five we are saddened to compare the Zimbabwe of five years ago to the Zimbabwe of today and we find that the levels of violence that led us to form a non-violent movement are back with a vengeance. When we formed WOZA in 2003, politicians were beating each other up, police were beating up activists and people were afraid for their lives. It seems to be a cycle of violence that dates back hundreds of years and we can quote Joshua Nkomo from 1983 saying, “Today, the people of Zimbabwe live in fear, not of enemies but of their own government.”

As we look back upon our footsteps as an organisation, we must rededicate ourselves to non-violent action and to building a spirit of love so that we can finally find the dignity, justice and peace our hearts beat for. We must also move within our communities preaching about non-violence as an effective way to bring social justice and equality for all. There is no weapon stronger that that of love and non-violent direct action by a people determined to be free. True freedom cannot be won through bloodshed. Even Mugabe himself recognises the power of non-violent resistance. When he heard about the work of Gandhi in India, he said, “This gave me personally a new kind of vision, a new philosophy, that if Africans were united in the same way as the Indians were, even if they resorted to an non-violent struggle they should eventually emerge victorious.” Zimbabwe came about through bloodshed – let us give non-violent protest a chance.

We recognise the deep frustration of our youth whose lives have been stolen by a regime that calls them ‘born frees’ and then trains them to be violent in militia camps. We need to be able to see a clear difference between violent politicians and non-violent human rights defenders and ask those committed to a new Zimbabwe to make clear statements as to where they stand. To the youth we remind them that when they choose to love, they choose lasting liberation. When they choose non-violent direct action, they choose to be brave – as violence is the weapon of the weak.

Zimbabweans spoke out clearly in the People’s Charter about the Zimbabwe they want. We would like to remind politicians that lives have been lost; their families live in expectation that they sacrificed for a better future for their children. We are watching to see how politicians consult us as they travel back and forth to South Africa to cut deals. We remind them that we expect transparent and honest consultation with the people and we will not accept ‘political deals’ that are irrelevant to people and their basic needs. Indira Gandhi once said, “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” What is hidden in the fists and what is the open palm covering up?

To use the words of Cesar Chavez – a workers rights activist from the United States – “We are convinced that non-violence is more powerful than violence … If you use violence, you have to sell part of yourself for that violence. Then you are no longer a master of your own struggle.” When a politician tries to cut a deal without input from the people he is selling his soul and our hopes for a better future. OUR SOULS AND THE HOPE FOR A BETTER TOMORROW ARE NOT FOR SALE! We are suffering day in and day out but have the patience to wait for a free and fair election under our own people-driven constitution to elect leaders with the people and their desires at heart. Stability and peace does not come from the barrel of a gun.

We close with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have the compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight; we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.”

Nonviolent action Guidelines
1. We will not harm anyone, and we will not retaliate in reaction to violence.
2. We will be honest and will treat every person with respect, especially law officers.
3. We will express our feelings but will not harbor hatred.
4. We will be alert to people around us and will provide needed assistance.
5. As peacekeepers we will protect others from insults and violence.
6. During a demonstration we will not run nor make threatening motions.
7. If we see a demonstrator threatening anyone, we will intervene to calm down the situation. If demonstrators become violent, and we cannot stop it, we will withdraw.
8. We will not steal, and we will not damage property.
9. We will not carry any weapons.
10. We will not bring or use any alcohol or drugs, other than for medical purposes.
11. We will keep the agreements we make with other demonstrators. If there is a serious disagreement, we may withdraw.
12. We will accept responsibility for our nonviolent actions. We will not lie to escape the consequences of our actions.

If you agree to the non-violent discipline guidelines and would like to join WOZA send your application letter to P.O. Box FM 701, Famona, Bulawayo. Tell us who you are and why you want to join WOZA. Write in any local language. Send us a self-addressed with postage stamp for us to send your Sisterhood Promise. Once you have signed this and posted it to us we will send you your membership card in the second self-addressed and postage paid envelope.