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79 members and 2 babies arrested for WATER protest

ALL RELEASED BY 3PM!!!!  SANITY PREVAILED

SEVENTY NINE members and two babies are under arrest at Bulawayo Central police station for staging a peaceful protest at the City Council Tower block on the water issue. At noon 12 November 2012. A 16 year old girl was handcuffed so over an hour as they officer concerned could not locate the handcuff keys.   – see the demands here Woza Moya WATER November 2012

Initially 150 members were arrested as police swooped but 70 were refused entry into the police station.

The peaceful protest targeted Tower block where most city council staff work as a way to pressurize them to refuse to implement oppressive disconnections and to adhere to water load shedding timetables.

Upon arrival at the Tower block council security guard immediately threatened to call the Riot Police which created increased tension. A senior council security officer then attended and promised that no Riot Police would be called. He then requested WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu accompany him to see the Director of Water. It was as they climbed the 6 flights that Riot Police swooped arresting the seated members awaiting the Director of Water.

Many of the members attending the protest have not had water for weeks and when it comes it is dirty and undrinkable.

Lawyers have been deployed to attend to those arrested whom include Magodonga Mahlangu.

Warning to logo thief – stop hiding behind our skirts

tsvangirai flyer using WOZA nameIt has come to the attention of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members that a flyer is being circulated around Bulawayo which uses, without permission, our logo and contact information, including our website address. We disassociate ourselves from this flyer both in content and in its distribution.

This flyer attacks the person of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and accuses him of affairs and abuse of women. Whilst we respect anyone right to freedom of expression and to hold a view, we expected the authors to stand up for their own views and not hide behind WOZA ‘skirts’  to make the personal attack.

WOZA is in the process of investigating the authors and distributors of this flyer with a view to taking legal action against them for impersonating WOZA and using our logo without authorisation.

Meanwhile we suggest that the originators of such leaflets cease and desist from such unethical practice and WOZA advise them to stop using WOZA logo and reputation.

WOZA members have never needed feeding of messaging from strangers; members are quite capable of authoring, preparing, distributing their own messages and reserve the right to do so without prompting by this ‘hidden hand’.

Note: Attachment of the flyer is done for purposes of context of the statement and to confirm our disassociation with it only.

WOZA scores another Supreme Court win

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leaders arrested in April 2010 took a challenge against the state on intolerable conditions they were kept under for 5 days. On 5 June 2014 the judgement was finally delivered by Justice Ziyambi in Harare. The court directed the first (Co-Ministers of Home Affairs) and second respondents (Police Commissioner and Attorney General) to
‘take all necessary steps and measures within their powers to ensure that at Harare Central Police Station
a) All holding cells shall have clean and salubrious flushing toilets with toilet paper and washing bowl.
b) The flushing toilets to be cordoned off from the main cell to ensure privacy.
c) A good standard of hygiene shall be maintained in the holding cells.
d) Every person detained in police custody overnight shall be furnished with a clean mattress and adequate blankets.
e) Adequate bathing facilities shall be provided for all persons detained in police custody overnight.
f) Every person detained shall have access at all times to wholesome drinking water from a source other than the tap above the toilet.
g) Women detained in police custody shall be allowed to keep their undergarments including brassieres, and to wear suitable footwear.
Whilst WOZA members morale is boosted, members will celebrate when these conditions are a lived reality.

WOZA would like to acknowledge the courage of the four members – Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Celina Madukani and Clara Manjengwa for taking this case and remaining committed to defending women’s rights.
WOZA pay tribute to Advocate Lewis Uriri and Dzimbabwe Chimbga and Bellinda Chinowawa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for legal support and for believing that members rights had been violated and seeing the case through over the last 4 years.
Joint Statement ZLHR and WOZA WOZA_ZLHR Joint Press Statement On ConCourt Judgment

Ruling copy Supreme Court ruling on Conditions Case – JLW&Others vs State (note poor copy)

Report on police station inspection and background http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1275

WOZA expresses solidarity with the people of Burma

Women of Zimbabwe Arise  – (WOZA) express solidarity with the people of Burma in their ongoing struggle to free themselves from the tyranny of military rule. We recognise the need for all people’s movements to join together in a common effort to build genuine democracies, which can work to bring the benefits of collective wealth to everyone and not just the privileged few.

We are inspired by the courage and determination of the tens of thousands of Burmese citizens and urge them to believe in their own power to achieve their goals however long it takes and despite the sacrifices. May we all work in solidarity to create a just world which values the life of every human being.

WOZA urges people to stand up for their children in the streets of Bulawayo today

Hundreds of members of WOZA and MOZA took to the streets of Bulawayo at lunchtime today, 12th February, to mark WOZA’s sixth Valentine’s Campaign. No arrests have been reported as yet.

The aim of the peaceful protest was to encourage Zimbabweans to stand up for their children in these times of extreme hardship and as an election looms. WOZA was formed in 2003 amidst severe political violence to demonstrate love and courage to all Zimbabweans. In 2008 this motivation is still equally relevant.

WOZA urges Zimbabweans to stand up for their children in Bulawayo, 12 Feb 08800 men and women processed for four city blocks through central Bulawayo, singing and handing out red roses and Valentine cards to passers-by. The response from people was exceptional with huge groups forming on pavements and motorists hooting to encourage the procession. Many people stepped forward to receive the cards and roses.

As the procession stopped for slogans outside the police administrative headquarters, bicycle police attempted to stop the procession but were informed that they would cause a pandemonium and that they should stand aside and allow the procession to reach its final destination. Those holding the banner proceeded to raise it up and over the police and continued to march.

A block later a senior ranking police officer arrived at the front of the procession and consulted with WOZA leader, Jenni Williams, who informed him that the march was under control. Obviously wanting to be reasonable, the officer allowed the group to reach their final dispersing point. He and several other officers then escorted the jubilant group to the main taxi rank to ensure that they did disperse. Later a truck load of riot police equipped with baton sticks and shields, as well as two carloads of plain-clothed officers were later observed moving through the rank. No arrests or assaults have been reported to date.

All WOZA and MOZA leaders were able to evade being arrested as they dispersed. In WOZA’s experience, it is often individual officers who try to be ‘heroes’ and arrest leaders after a call for peaceful dispersal would have already been made.

WOZA 14 remanded to 3 July 2008

The 14 members arrested on 28th May appeared on remand in Harare Magistrate’s Court yesterday morning (Friday 20th) and were further remanded to 3rd July. Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, who are still in custody at Chikurubi Women’s Prison, were remanded in absentia as the truck bringing them from prison did not arrive on time. Williams, who is facing extra charges of communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state and causing disaffection amongst the police force, was also remanded to 3rd July on those charges.

Williams and Mahlangu are now entering their fourth week in prison. They remain in good spirits despite the conditions in Chikurubi. Lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers from Human Rights (ZLHR) are continuing to work on appealing their continued detention. The two would welcome visits from anyone who would be able to make it to Chikurubi.

Meanwhile, two other WOZA members, Trust Moyo and Cynthia Ncube, go on trial in Bulawayo on Monday 23rd charged with distributing materials likely to cause a breach of the peace after being arrested in a peaceful demonstration on 5th May.

Click here to see a copy of the appeal launched in the independent Zimbabwean press Free Williams and Mahlangu appeal

Woza Moya newsletter – July 2008 – English

A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Women are like teabags. We don’t know how strong we are until we are in hot water.”

Freedom in a fortnight? A view from the trenches

This view represents a consulted way forward recommended by Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA). We are an organisation owned by its 60,000 members who hold qualifications in daily survival and degrees in nonviolence despite the deeply polarised political environment in Zimbabwe since 2000. WOZA was born in the community and seeks to draw the attention of preoccupied politicians to people’s needs, namely bread and butter issues; or as WOZA likes to put it, bread and roses issues – bread representing food and roses representing the need for lasting dignity.

At the moment, the highway that is Zimbabwe has two ‘vehicles’ going in opposite directions, Zanu PF, the so-called ‘liberation war’ party and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). These parties speed along preoccupied with their own importance, hardly ever taking the off-ramp to consult with the suffering masses.

What do we want policy makers to focus on? The reality on the ground for Zimbabweans right now is tantamount to torture. For representatives of political parties to sit at the negotiating table cutting an elite power-sharing deal whilst ignoring the crashing economy and the undeclared civil war by Mugabe against ordinary people is a crime against our humanity. We suspect that they do not understand the day-to-day struggle of ordinary Zimbabweans. As a result WOZA is determined to hold our placards up high to get their attention and demand that they address our needs.

Our placards will be drawing attention to the following points:
1.    Daily life is form of torture ·    We cannot get food without being forced to take sides with the ruling Zanu PF who currently controls access to all food in the country. As we have seen before during election periods, they have also banned distribution of food by international NGOs so that they can further control our fundamental need to eat. Many of our members try to get humanitarian assistance but because they speak out, are punished by Zanu PF and denied food or blackmailed into support in exchange for food. Hunger is the price for their courage. ·    As Zimbabweans go about their daily activities, youth militia, police, army and war veterans subject them to harassment and intimidation. Even a neighbour can no longer be trusted, as with the widespread hunger, one can be sold out in exchange for food. Lists of names of all those that oppose the regime exist at ward, district, province and national level. This highly sophisticated ‘reign of terror’ was re-established between March 29 and June 27. It is an open secret that Zanu PF did not campaign in their normal violent manner in the run up to March 29 and therefore lost the presidential race. They reverted to type and put in place their structures of evil after March 29, resulting in the farcical run-off and Mugabe inaugurating himself.

2.    Undeclared civil war during Thabo Mbeki’s watch. It was during the SADC mediation process, led by Thabo Mbeki, that Mugabe has continued and intensified his campaign of murder, mutilation, abduction and rape. As a result our placards will also state that we no longer have confidence in Thabo Mbeki. During his watch, babies have been mutilated for their parents’ democratic beliefs – their blood is on his hands. The South African mediation team stressed that the aim of the mediation was to have ‘an election whose result cannot be contested’. Yet two elections have been held and the results of both are contested. A second SADC team was mandated to deal with the economic chaos but they seem to have disappeared or have become too baffled by too many zeros to do anything. We therefore demand that:

·    The Africa Union and SADC have provided a reference group to the mediation team and it is our view that the political parties also need an on-the-ground reference group made up of civic society representatives who can provide input and receive feedback.

·    The status of the second SADC team dealing with the economy is clarified and their recommendations be made public so Zimbabweans can know what is to be done about the crashing economy.

·    The United Nations is allowed to come in to assess humanitarian needs and set up structures to address these urgently.

3.    Zimbabweans have lost faith in politicians’ ability to return life to the living. We do not think power sharing or a government of national unity (GNU) can work in Zimbabwe. We need an independent and impartial transitional authority under African leadership. African leaders should not dictate that a GNU be the only solution to our crisis. Zimbabwe is not Kenya and their solutions cannot be imposed on us, especially with our historical experiences of 1987. We need a solution to address the specific of the Zimbabwe crisis.  In Zimbabwe, the military elite runs the show not only on military might but also on political partisanship. For the ordinary soldier, police officer or prison officer to keep their job they have to follow political orders. This is the situation at any police station in the country. A transitional authority would be better placed to address this problem. A neutral person from Africa must be found who, supported by Zimbabwean technocrats, can form an interim authority that will neutralise the pillars of state, including the police. The violence can only be stopped when the victims can once again report abuses to an impartial body and trust that the perpetrators will be arrested and put on trial no matter who they are. For this to happen, magistrates and judges will also need to know that they will also be watched to ensure that there is justice through the courts for all equally.

We would want an engendered transitional authority to have the following mandate during their eighteen-month term of office:

a.    Stop the political violence. Depoliticise the police, army and other defence forces. Any political violence must be reported, investigated and prosecuted through the courts without any form of favour or political influence.

b.    Dialogue with the business and professional community to develop policy designed to bring about economic recovery.

c.    Supervise the addressing of the humanitarian crisis together with the United Nations.

d.    Even constitution making has become the sole preserve of politicians. It was the constitutional referendum in 2000 that intensified political violence with catastrophic results and therefore we need an independent person to oversee the consultative process. A transitional authority must neutralise this position and return constitution making back to the people of Zimbabwe.

e.    Depoliticise the issue of land reform, conduct a land audit and consult on a fair and equitable land reform programme. If the economy is to be stabilised, we need our land to be made productive fast.

f.    Form a body to consult and develop a transitional justice plan of action designed to bring healing and reconciliation and then deal with justice and restitution for victims in the new Zimbabwe.

g.    Bring about a truly independent electoral commission to oversee first a referendum on the new constitution and then a truly free and fair election process and a peaceful transition to the winner.

Thousands of WOZA members have been arrested for exercising their freedoms of expression and assembly. Some were even denied bail and imprisoned for marching to the Zambian Embassy to deliver a petition to the SADC chair, Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa. They remain undaunted by this repression and fully intend to continue to peacefully march for bread and roses, placards held high until their messages are taken seriously at the negotiation table and in the corridors of power. Of course if they had civic representatives at the table, their voice would be better heard than from the streets.

Strike a woman and you strike a rock

Eleven WOZA members arrested and detained in Bulawayo

Eleven WOZA members, eight women, three men and two babies, were arrested in Nketa, Bulawayo today. They were about to attend a meeting, which was disrupted by riot police before it could commence. The 11 members were sitting outside a church when riot police arrived there after failing to find anyone at the appointed meeting place. Police allowed the mothers and babies to be released into the custody of their lawyer for the night but nine remain in custody tonight. Two university students arrested close by were also arrested with the WOZA members but have been released into their lawyer’s custody.

On Monday WOZA meeting venues were also surrounded by police but no members were arrested and the meetings took place as planned.

WOZA continues to engage schools directly on education issues – Harare

WOZA members outside Dudzai High School, Zengeza

WOZA members outside Dudzai High School, Zengeza

Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) in Harare continued with the campaign to directly engage school authorities over unreasonable demands on parents today. Representative groups met with school authorities at 12 schools across Harare and Chitungwiza to outline the concerns of parents and to deliver copies of petitions protesting against the extra demands placed on parents by schools, in particular the demand for stationery and cleaning materials.

At Seke 7 Primary School in St Marys and Seke 1 High School in Zengeza, both headmasters welcomed the representative groups with enthusiasm, commending WOZA for the work it is doing, and encouraging the parents to continue to defend their children’s rights.   The reception was less welcome at Seke 1 Primary School in St Marys but at least the headmaster met with the representative group and responded to their concerns. At Dudzai High School in Zengeza the headmaster refused to meet with the representative group unless they had a letter from the district education office. The petitions were therefore left with the bursar.

The district education officer later contacted leaders in the area, after petitions had been presented at the three schools, commending WOZA for the good initiative. He complained that parents did not speak openly at meetings about levies or simply did not attend. He advised WOZA to encourage parents who are struggling to pay fees to attend the meetings.

In Chitungwiza North, the headmasters of Tamuka and Farai Primary Schools were very cooperative after they had seen the petitions. They explained that the USD 50 charged for levies covers the cost of the text books and to maintain the grounds. At Farai, the school authorities admitted that the school was not very clean and promised to do something about that soon. At Kambuzuma 2 High School, the headmaster explained that the teachers’ fee of USD 10 is used to buy chemicals and pay the grounds men.  He complained that parents were not actively involved in the improvement of the school and did not attend school meetings yet were quick to criticize.

In Dzivarasekwa, the headmaster of Dzivarasekwa 4 Primary School welcomed the representative group and was happy to discuss their concerns. When asked why his school was sending pupils home because for failure to pay fees, he said it was an agreement with parents who had attended a meeting when schools opened and they had agreed that if school fees was not paid by the 5th March, then pupils should be sent home. He said half of the levy paid was given to teachers as an allowance. The teachers at the school had started boycotting classes saying their salaries were poor. The headmaster of Dzivarasekwa 6 Primary was having a similar problem with teachers as they had told him they would not be teaching again until their salaries were reviewed. Both heads encouraged parents to attend and participate in meetings that affect their children.

In Glen View, the headmaster of Glenview 1 High School refused to meet with the representative group but the headmaster of Glen View 2 High, Mr Masiiwa, was more friendly, even addressing the parents who had gathered outside. He told them that extra allowances for teachers had been stopped since they had been instructed by the ministry to do so. He also said both school fees and levies could be paid in instalments as long as the parents approached the school authorities to make an arrangement to do so. No pupils have been sent home since schools opened. The headmaster of Glen View 7 Primary was also happy to meet with the representative group and address their concerns.

WOZA would like to commend the school authorities that took the time to meet with the representative groups of parents and address their concerns. As in Bulawayo, we would also like to encourage all parents to take an active role in participating in the running of the schools that your children attend and take responsibility to hold the school authorities accountable for the funds given to the school.