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Pressure on Parliament from WOZA 16 Days protest

FIVE hundred members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched in two separate processions to Parliament at noon on 27th November 2012. This protest is the launch of the WOZA 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence under the international theme: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women! But WOZA will use a shortened version – PEACE NOW!

The protest groups merged 5 meters from Parliament entrance and closed the distance between them and a squad of Riot police manning the entrance door into Parliament. As the activists arrived, Police immediately tried to send them away from the door but the determined human rights defenders began their protest program. The program included the singing of a Shona language song and kneeling in prayer.

WOZA National coordinator Jenni Williams then went to the entrance to deliver the Woza Moya Newsletter containing the 16 Days demands. Two ‘shivering with fear’ parliamentary officers managed to take the document before being shoved out of the way by glaring intelligence officers. The intelligence officers attempted to ensure Williams only spoke with them. As this engagement happened Williams was roughly pulled by the arm from the back by a suited man who seemed to be a parliamentarian intent on violence, he pulled Williams out the way to get into the chamber.

Seven members then made short speeches outlining the demands.  A male member chanting a WOZA slogan ‘you strike a woman and you strike a rock’ to the amusement of male bystanders, spoke of the need to remove the Zanu PF militia who are now manning boreholes and politicizing the distribution of water.

The protest programme was then closed with more slogans. Journalists who were in attendance then began to ask questions of Williams and other participants and a mini press conference ensured. Impatient Riot Police took exception to this and became loud in their attempts to disperse Williams and the journalists.
Many members of parliament were seen looking through the windows and smiling their encouragement. WOZA pray that they took time to read the list of demands contained in the Woza Moya newsletter.

No members were beaten or arrested during the protest and apart from over zealousness on the part of some junior officers who threatened to beat members at the back of the protest, police behaved with restraint.

WOZA members demand a strong Declaration of Rights a.    Equality – right to equality on basis of gender – women to have equal access to jobs and employment, equal pay, to acquire land and inherit property. b.    Right to education – free but quality primary and affordable secondary education and access to vocational education. As a way to correct the injustice of the past 10 years of prioritising defence over education we demand this right be fully justiciable. c.    Right to protest and assemble freely (section 4:16) and the police to respect this right and to protest without clearance. d.    The Right to personal liberty and right to be informed of the reason for arrest.  We want the right to free and safe streets and personal security. e.    Affordable and quality health care. f.    Clean water, sanitation, clean environment. g.    There should be a better provision for children’s rights and expansion in the bill of rights including social economic political and cultural rights. For example the right to earn a living (protection of informal sector). h.    Labour rights – the right to strike, safety, non-discrimination in employment on ethnic basis

WOZA members general DEMANDS
1.    A Ministry of Women’s Affairs to promote affirmative action
2.    There must be separation of powers and members feel that devolution will help promote total people participation in how they want to be governed.
3.    Members said the executive must not interfere with the judiciary and must let the judiciary be independent and for justice to prevail in the country.
4.    Members said they want the rule of law to be protected and promoted in the new constitution.
5.    Members want to see a change in the police force behaviour and in the way they do their job. They believe that the presidential appointment method is the root cause for politicisation of the security sector.
6.    Members want equal representation of women in all elected institutions and commissions.
7.    Strong Human Rights Commission that will fully recognise and protect all human rights ensuring that all cases of human rights are dealt with.
8.    National Peace commission for transitional justice which will provide for restitution from perpetrators for Gukurahundi crimes and those victims will be compensated.
9.    Culture Commission to promote traditional culture that respects human rights
10.    Development Commission to identify disadvantaged and provide affirmative action
11.    Independent Land Commission for distribution of land ensuring that women benefit the most as they are serious farmers.
12.    A strong Provincial and Local Government. Members want a devolved system of government and that can effectively administer devolution for development within its region and ensure natural resources develop their immediate community. Members said they want devolution of powers ‘high and low’ but are prepared to accept a start toward this system and develop it by amendments to the constitution. They do not accept Zanu PF’s version – decentralisation as it has already been in place and has not resulted in shared and devolved decision making.

a.    Members said they want policy change. They want to elect their provincial governors as a principle of democracy.   b.    Members want a Local authority that has the power to control natural resources and make all development decisions.  c.    Fair distribution of revenues between centre and provinces.

WOZA logo theft attempt to swing election

MEMBERS of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) enroute to vote at 6am on 31st July 2013 were surprised to see strange A4 flyers with WOZA logos thrown all around the Mpopoma suburb in Bulawayo. Members then called the WOZA leadership to notify them of the logo theft.

WOZA national Coordinator then contacted the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party secretary general who confirmed that the flyer had not been authored by her party. The MDC Tsvangirai party was also then notified through party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa that the flyer had not been authored by WOZA.

The timing of the distribution of this flyer was obviously an attempt to swing voters by once again hiding behind our WOZA skirts instead of winning the election by a good manifesto and honest campaigning.

Unfortunately, members of the MDC T party reacted to the flyer and several of our members were visited and threatened. Our members were told by these members whose names are withheld , “We will sort you out when we take over next week.” WOZA call on the MDC Tsvangirai leadership to ask the Mpopoma/ Pelandaba ward leadership to instruct members to ignore this obvious attempt by this hidden hand to cause unnecessary violence.

This is the second time the WOZA logo has been stolen and published with hate speech and discriminatory content which is obviously divisive and designed to promote violence. (see the link to the first flyer

see the flyer here woza

16 members still in custody in Masvingo – have been beaten

The 16 members, seven women and nine men, arrested in Masvingo on Tuesday for playing netball and football remain in custody at Masvingo Central Police Station. They still have not been charged. There is deep concern for their well being as members taking food to them last night reported that police had beaten them, one by one, yesterday afternoon. The extent of their injuries is not clear.

Police are apparently still trying to force them to pay admission of guilt fines although they have committed no crime and have not been charged with anything.

Lawyers are now considering filing an urgent high court application for their immediate release as police are apparently refusing to take them to court today and the 48-hours that they are allowed to be held will soon be up.

The group has now spent two nights in custody. Also in custody is the soccer ball, although the netball evaded arrest.

It is still not clear why they were arrested in the first place although it is obvious that it is part of the ongoing campaign of police harassment of human rights defenders in the country.

It is bitterly cold in Masvingo at present and as the group was playing sports at the time, many are not wearing warm clothing. Police have not allowed extra clothing to be brought in to those in custody.

The group had been engaged in their game at Macheke Stadium yesterday afternoon when two members of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) approached them and questioned one of the members. They then took him away. Shortly afterwards they came back and arrested the rest of the group.

Whilst over 300 members demonstrated in Mutare on Monday without incident (see story below), there have been no recent protests in Masvingo.

Please continue to ring Masvingo Central Police Station on +263 39 62221 to protest the continued detention of the group and that police stop the harassment and beatings of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.

Woza Moya – English – April 2008

Against brute force and injustice the people will have the last word – that of victory. Che Guevara, South American revolutionary


The election has come and gone and WOZA would like to pay tribute to Zimbabweans for the peaceful way they went out to vote and for the patience they have shown while waiting for ZEC to get their act together. A week has passed without the results and ZEC are taking our patience for granted. Some of us went to vote as a protest knowing that there was a high chance of the result being rigged or stolen. Politicians are trading insults and threats whilst Zimbabwe burns. When you read this, please think about your child and the dreams you had of a better life for them. Think about what your children are doing. Are they in school studying hard and doing well or sleeping on their desks without teachers? Are they queuing for water or looking for firewood? Or are they far away in a foreign land? Is this the future you imagined for them? As long as the results are held hostage we cannot get a new government and demand the social justice we need and deserve. For how much longer can we wait for the results when we have seen them outside polling stations and know that we voted for a change? Last week, people used the polls to speak out – but our voices are being ignored. Today is the day to take peaceful action to remind ZEC and politicians that WE, the voters, are the owners of the election and WE will not allow them to ignore us. We made our decision with our X and it must be respected.

Today is the day to end the silence.


Today is also the day that we continue our struggle for social justice.

Our vote last week was just another way in which we reminded our leaders that we want and deserve social justice which can be defined as a system where people have equal opportunities/access to social, economic, cultural, religious and political needs regardless of race, gender, creed or any other form of discrimination.

This is what we were thinking of when we went to choose our new leaders. We want leaders who prioritise the following:
· Full enjoyment of all social, political, economic and cultural rights
· An equal society including gender equality with full respect for all human rights including women’s and children’s rights
· Freedoms including speech, assembly and association
· Respect and tolerance of diversity – culture and religion
· Transparency and accountability
· Equal participation in political and economic decision-making
· Equal application of the law – access to justice and understanding of the law
· Correction of past injustices such as Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina
· Gutsaruzhinji/inhlalakahle yabantu (good living), including adequate and affordable food
· Access to affordable education
· Access to affordable housing, electricity, sanitation and clean water
· Access to affordable healthcare and medication including anti-retrovirals (ARVs)
· Equal and fair access to fertile land, inputs, equipment and secure ownership
· Equal opportunities to resources, employment, self-help projects and the right to earn a living wage
· Development of adequate infrastructure and access to affordable transport
· Environmentally sustainable usage of resources

As Zimbabweans we deserve the social justice that we talk about but we can only get it if we are prepared to stand up and demand it from our leaders. Make a start today.


Now is the time to keep standing strong for your child’s future.


WOZA demands the immediate forming of a new government in a street demonstration in Bulawayo

OVER 600 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) took to the streets of Bulawayo this afternoon, marching straight to Mhlahlandlela Government Complex to demand the immediate forming of a new government as outlined in the 15 September power-sharing deal. Despite this complex being directly opposite the Zimbabwe Republic Police Drill Hall, no members appear to have been arrested at the time of this release.

On several occasions, police officers walked by the protest looking the other way. Workers at the three government complexes along the route met the peaceful procession with big smiles. They demanded copies of the September 2008 Woza Moya newsletter covering our position as regards the power-sharing agreement. At Mhlahlandlela, the security guard received the newsletter and some placards with a broad smile and handed them in to the receptionist.

WOZA marches through the streets of Bulawayo to demand the immediate forming of a new governmentThe protest began at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) where participants delivered a protest note, complaining about poor electricity supply and high tariffs. Bystanders shouted out – ‘Well done, good job – good job!’ The procession then proceeded several blocks to the government complex where it ended.

The theme of the protest was ‘actions speak louder than words’. Despite it being 15 days since the deal was signed, no progress has been made in forming a new government although it was to have been implemented immediately. Food prices are soaring, electricity and water cuts are increasing but no one seems interested or able to deal decisively with these issues and the ordinary citizens continues to carry the ever-increasing burden. WOZA members, along with the rest of the nation, are starving but unable to access food aid despite recognition in the deal that the situation is urgent.

WOZA is therefore demanding immediate action regarding the formation of a new government that will begin to work on solving urgent social issues, like food, electricity and water. We also requested that the mothers of the nation arise and demand a liveable peace.

During the protest, WOZA members chanted in Ndebele – ‘ayihlale phansi ihambe umthetho’ (sit down and maintain discipline). This was sang both as a way to ensure that the activists maintained non-violent discipline and also as a message to politicians to sit down and respect the deal. Other songs sang include a WOZA favourite – ‘this is an issue that men are failing to solve’.

WOZA members express their opinions on their placardsSome of the placards written by members read – ‘we can’t eat empty promises’; ‘once bitten twice shy’; ‘we are hungry’ and ‘three principals, the talk show is over’.

The protest was also a test to see if freedoms of expression and assembly have opened up and WOZA commend the police for looking the other way. In our view police did not act to arrest anyone because they are fed up and personally support the protest issue.

To read a copy of the newsletter carried by the protestors and which outlines WOZA’s position on the power-sharing agreement signed by the political parties, see below (September 2008 Woza Moya English Edition).

Charge Sheet, State Outline and Witness Statement against Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu 17.10.08

Bulawayo Province CHARGE SHEET – Bulawayo Central 311/10/08

C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23
“Acting together with one or more other persons with him/her in any place realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security or order of the public”

In that on the 16th day of October, 2008, the accused persons MAGODONGA MAHLANGU and JENNIFER WILLIAMS one or more of them unlawfully and acting together with one or more other persons with them gathered at Mhlanhlandlela government complex singing, chanting slogans and carrying placards realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security and order of the public.

Bulawayo Central 311/10/08
C/S 37 (I) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codifaction and Reform Act Chapter 9:23


The accused persons in this matter is Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu who belong to a certain organization called “Women of Zimbabwe Arise” (WOZA).

The complainant in this matter is the state.
On the 16th day of October, 2008 and at around 1115hrs, the two aforesaid accused persons led a group of about 300 women and proceeded to Mhlanhlandlela complex singing, chanting slogans and carrying placards with various messages. Some of the placards were written ‘ideal lenu selibulele ilizwe, umangoye uselala eziko; sifuna amatisha esikolo”. (Translation: Your deal has destroyed the country/ the cat is using the stove as its bed (implying there is no cooking)/ We want teachers in the school)

When this group arrived at Mhlanhlandlela, they were addressed by Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. The group was then ordered to disperse by police but the two above accused persons refused to comply to the orders leading to their arrest.

The accused persons had no right whatsoever to act in the manner they did.



SIBANDA F. 064876R

1. I am a male adult aged 23 years serving in the Zimbabwe Republic Police stationed at Nkulumane Police station but currently attached to Bulawayo Provincial Reaction Group.
2. On the 16th October 2008 at about 1130hrs, I was at PRG base together with my collegues when I was summoned by OIC Byo Central to proceed at Mhlanhlandlela Complex where an unlawful demonstration was taking place.
3. On arrival I found a group of about 300 women some sitting down and some standing holding placards being addressed by Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu.
4. The gathering was ordered to disperse by OIC Central and some complied but Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu refused to disperse and they were arrested.
5. The placards had different messages written in Ndebele some had the following message:
a. Ideal lenu seli

WOZA deliver petition to Minister of Education – 5 arrested, many beaten

Update – 6pm

Five members, four women and one man, will spend the night in Harare Central Police Station tonight following their arrest this morning whilst trying to hand in a petition to the Minister of Education. Lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have not been allowed access to their clients so the details of what they will be charged with are not known. Food has been allowed in to the group this evening.

Nine members have had to receive treatment for the vicious beatings they received from riot police. All have been discharged however. Most injuries were deep tissue bruising from being beaten with baton sticks – deep welts can be seen on most of those that received treatment. One woman has a fractured toe from where she was stamped on by a booted police officer. The woman for whom the ambulance was called has a serious injury to her knee. She had been trying to protect her seven-month old baby from being beaten and was begging police not to hurt her or her baby. This obviously angered the police who then proceeded to single her out for a more severe beating. She is unable to walk and had to be carried home. Many others received beatings but as police were circling the Ministry continuously, they obviously were not able to make contact with the support team to receive treatment.

In the meantime the trial of WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu on charges of disturbing the peace is set to resume tomorrow in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court.


Hundreds of members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) delivered a petition to the new Minister of Education, Senator David Coltart today in Harare. Whilst leaders tried to deliver the petition to the minister, with whom they had an official appointment, riot police indiscriminately beat the peaceful group that were waiting for the minister to come and address them. At least 10 members have been arrested. The full extent of the injuries sustained are not clear but at least one woman is unable to walk and an ambulance has been called for her.

The group of 450 members handing in the petition converged on the Ministry of Education from three different directions. The first group to arrive was immediately set upon by the riot police detail that is based at Parliament. Whilst they were being beaten however, the women appealed to the police reminding them that their children are not going to school either. The police stopped the beatings and the protestors re-grouped outside the Ministry to wait. A police vehicle full of riot police arrived shortly afterwards however and again started to beat the group. They were joined by a second vehicle, again full of riot police who were banging their shields and singing, “today we are going to beat you” as they descended on the group and viciously began to beat them. They later changed their song to “why are your husbands’ allowing you to demonstrate?”.

As they were driven off towards Harare Central Police Station, the women under arrest were heard to be singing “we want education for our children.” More details of their arrest will be given once lawyers had been able to attend to them.

The Minister, who had been delayed by an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister, finally arrived to accept the petition of approximately 25,000 signatures. He expressed regret and sorrow that the group who had had an official appointment with him should be beaten and arrested and said that these kinds of incidents were exactly what the MDC was trying to change by joining government. He also stated that he had heard the pleas of Zimbabwean parents and would do everything in his power to ensure that every child goes to school.

The petition and the protest are part of WOZA’s Take the Step campaign, designed to encourage Zimbabweans to continue with the civic participation that they demonstrated in March 2008. The signatures on the petition were collected by WOZA members in a door-to-door campaign in recent weeks. The petition text reads as follows: ‘Please put our children’s education first. I am a parent whose child did not learn well in 2008. There were no teachers, no textbooks, and I cannot pay the new forex fees. Please declare the education system a national disaster and allow all children to repeat 2008 at no cost. Those that do not want to repeat will need help so that the children do not suffer. Please campaign to lure teachers home with dignified salaries, adequate supplies, furniture and equipment in schools.’

More information will be made available as it is received.

May Woza Moya newsletter – English

100 Days of the Government of National Unity – an analysis of priorities

10 months have passed since the Global Political Agreement was signed. They promised to “build a democratic and just, inclusive society free of fear, violence, patronage, corruption and to ensure a better life for all Zimbabweans”. They promised to “arrest the fall in living standards and reverse the decline of our economy”, and “an end to violence, respect for human rights and freedoms of expression and assembly, economic and social justice, security sector reform, constitutional reforms and national healing.”

On 11 February this year, Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister and a few days’ later ministers and deputy ministers were sworn in. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said in his speech, “For too long our people’s hopes for a bright and prosperous future have been betrayed. Instead of hope their days have been filled with starvation, disease and fear. A culture of entitlement and impunity has brought our nation to the brink of a dark abyss. This must end today.” He promised “jobs for those who wish to work, food is available for those who are hungry, and where we are united by our respect for the rights and dignity of our fellow citizens. This is the debt we owe to our liberation heroes and our democratic movement heroes who paid the ultimate price so we could all live together free from fear, hunger, and poverty.” He said he would restore a free media, the rule of law and Zimbabwe’s devastated agricultural sector. He promised to open a “new chapter for our country” and told us he had three priorities: 1.Democratisation 2. Ending the humanitarian crisis 3. Stabilising the economy

SO WHERE ARE WE NOW? WOZA heard them talk and reminded each other that – actions speak louder than words. We continued to encourage each other to Qhubeka/ Take the Step /Yendera Mberi. We continued to demand respect for human rights and social justice through non-violent protest. We waited to see what they would do during the first 100 days. We know that our country has been destroyed and cannot be fixed overnight BUT we also cannot just sit and watch and do nothing. The 100 days has come and gone. Now we have to remind politicians we are impatient for a better life – we deserved it yesterday and want it TODAY. We march today to demand concrete progress on the promises made.

WOZA consulted members in Bulawayo on what they thought the power-sharing government should have prioritised in their first 100 days in office. They responded to this question:
If you were President or Prime Minister or even Minister of Finance or Education and you had 20 days left what 20 things would you concentrate on first?
We then selected the top five answers out of 20 and compiled this list of priorities. 6,520 members completed the petition and below is a summary of contributions.

1. Fix the education system:
•    We want free or affordable better quality education, with resources for our children and teachers who are motivated by descent salaries.
•    Teachers still look at parents as their employer while the real employer, government, looks on helplessly.
2. Urgent reforms to stabilize the economy:
•    Reintroduce local currency as soon as possible because not everyone can access foreign currency and afford to use it. Find a way to bring back a stable Zimbabwe dollar currency.
•    Audit finances at RBZ and Gono should be investigated for corruption and either be fired or resign.
3. Restore the healthcare system:
•    We need affordable fees for clinics and hospitals and enough affordable medicines.
•    Pregnancy no longer means celebrating a birth but pain and suffering due to high costs; demands for bribes and bad service. Nurses and doctors must be told to treat patients with respect. They must also earn a living wage that dignifies them.
•    Please allow people a dignified death – buy more storage fridges and clean up mortuaries.
4. Better quality, affordable and efficient service delivery from ZESA, City Councils and Tel One:
•    They keep increasing their tariffs but at the same time they decrease their service. Make sure people are getting a clean supply of water. Reduce telephone tariffs and improve service.
5. Create employment and opportunities:
•    We want jobs for all and those with jobs require a living wage that enables them to afford to get to work and eat three meals a day.
•    Offer civil servants a decent salary.
•    Allow people to get trading licenses and tell police to stop treating vendors like criminals.
•    Encourage informal and cross-border trading by capacitating ordinary people with self-help projects and training so that they will be able to create more business on a small scale, which will automatically boost industry.
6. Restore the rule of law:
•    Enforce the rule of law and respect for property rights.
•    Police corruption is steadily increasing; weed out corrupt police officers. We demand an end to the public looting of vendors’ goods by police. Citizens need to be protected against indiscriminate harassment. Implement the deal points about training of police.
•    End the violence by police on citizens. There is too much police brutality.
•    Withdraw trumped up charges against prisoners.
•    Repeal the sections in law (POSA sections) that violates civil rights immediately.
7. Basic commodities – food for all:
•    Food needs to be affordable and available. Reduce prices on a par with regional prices to stop profiteering
•    Free and unhindered access to food aid for those who cannot feed themselves.
•    Adequate food for prisoners.
8. Fix transport infrastructure:
•    Repair roads. Improve transport for the easier movement of goods and passengers.
•    Make fuel more affordable and accessible.
9. Housing:
•    There needs to be affordable housing for all – make rents reasonable and build more houses.
•    A special compensation programme of housing for Murambatsvina victims.
10. Resuscitation of industry:
•    Inject funds into industry.
•    Encourage investment to get our economy back on its feet.
11. Provide social welfare:
•    A decent pension for elderly, care and support for orphans and the disabled must be catered for.
12. Start a national healing process:
•    Make the President apologise to the nation.
•    There should be an investigation into human rights abuses and crimes against humanity and those guilty should be removed.
•    We need peace and an immediate end to violence. We need to feel safe in our own country and own homes.
13. Have media freedom:
•    Fair and equal coverage of all government officials. We want to hear them speak on ZBC and not have voice-overs telling us what they are saying. We want the truth from our media.
•    We want more independent media – newspapers, radio and television.
14. Write a new constitution followed by elections:
•    Speed up the process for a new people-driven constitution. No president can hold more than 2 terms of office.
15. Equality for all:
•    Stop discrimination. Equal allocation of resources to all provinces and people.
•    Support gender equality programmes to gain women’s participation in all aspects of life – business, leadership.
16. Improve international relations:
•    Restore international relations – not only East or West, but all. Make sure that we have good (and equitable) trade relationships with regional and international countries.
•    We would like to thank our neighbours and the international community for helping us in our time of need. Please keep it up.
17. Re-establish agriculture and initiate a genuine land-reform programme:
•    Stop selective distribution of land. Stop illegal invasions. Be serious about agriculture because our country depends on farming. Give land to productive people.
•    Fair distribution of inputs. Biased distribution means starvation.
•    Compensation for those who had their farms taken.
If I was the Minister of Home Affairs:
•    Remove Police Commissioner Chihuri who allows officers to abuse peoples’ rights and loot their goods.
•    Reduce the cost of passports.
•    Allow people to get birth certificates and identity documents at regional offices and make it easy for them.

Woza Moya January 2010 English



Looking back to look forward – Education in Zimbabwe by WOZA

The education of their children has been a major driving force for WOZA members and the motivation behind much activism. In the first decade after Independence, the education system in Zimbabwe was praised as the best in Africa. But since 2000 it has declined because of power and politics – our children’s future sacrificed. We look at how this decay took place to expose this injustice and to demand it be fixed immediately. Our children deserve excellence. They deserve teachers trained to deliver it and we will not rest until we get it.


By 2009 education was in crisis with neither state nor parents able to afford the cost of quality schooling. Buildings had fallen into disrepair and teaching materials disappeared. Huge numbers of teachers left the country due to a worthless salary. Those who stayed spent more time on strike, neglecting their teaching. Tens of thousands of children dropped out of school because it was not worth staying to learn little and then fail exams after paying high fees. Even children who passed could not find jobs, so they thought it was better to drop out and earn money in black market dealing, gold panning or cross-border trading.


In February 2009 Senator David Coltart was appointed Minister of Education. He inherited a complete disaster. And he had to face a nation of parents who still wanted their children to be educated and expected him to perform the miracle of providing a good, affordable education. Although he managed to reopen the schools and keep them open, thousands of children continue to drop out because they cannot afford the fees, high levies and top-ups teachers demand. Despite good intentions, he was unable to provide the quality of education parents wanted. Now the education system not only needs massive amounts of investment, it also needs a new curriculum, if it is to give children of Zimbabwe hope for a better future.


When we look back at the history of education we are shocked to discover that the quality of education before independence for both the white minority and the elite black minority was at a higher standard than the education being provided for those ‘born free’ in Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe was a product of a higher quality education system than he has provided for our children. One of the promises of the liberation war was free primary education and affordable secondary education for all Zimbabweans. And so the immediate goal of the new government after Independence was to open up education opportunities equally for all races. Government also insisted that all must have equal schooling but they only wanted academic schooling. And so they developed a new curriculum but it made intelligence more important than empowering people with skills. Vocational and commercial skills training streams were closed in almost all schools. There was nothing in the curriculum that covered civic education or any emphasis on practical, vocational or technical subjects, which would have allowed the children to grow into employable citizens, knowing and exercising all their rights.


In the post-Independence expansion they catered for quantity of children in schools. Expansion of education during the 1980’s was great, with numbers in secondary schools multiplying four times in six years. Obviously school places were not available and there were no teachers or enough textbooks. Instead of opening up high quality education to all Zimbabweans, there was mass education at a very low standard. Because there was no training in practical or vocational subjects, Zimbabwe produced large numbers of poorly and inappropriately educated youth who considered themselves too educated for manual labour but were not prepared for any specific employment.


By the late 80’s, however, the amounts that government was channelling to schools for operating costs was decreasing or being diverted to other budgets such as the defence forces. Someone had to begin to pay the bills. Parents committees were told to charge parents levies to cater for the purchase and repair of textbooks, furniture, cleaning equipment as well as capital development and major repairs. Teachers earning meaningless salaries looked to parents to provide them with top ups or else went on strike. In 2009, teachers came back to work for an ‘allowance’ of US $100 a month, which was later, increased to US $150. Urban primary schools in high-density areas paid US $5, a little more for secondary schools and primary schools in low-density areas and rural primary schools did not have a fee. But this money was not enough to kick start schooling so parents’ committees were told to increase levy amounts to cover expenses. Since February 2009, the Ministry of Education has struggled to keep the schools open and the teachers in place. Teachers do not bother themselves with teaching children in their official morning sessions but in the afternoon transform into private tutors motivated by direct cash payments by children whose parents can pay them. Many teachers are now earning more than the vast majority of Zimbabweans – most of them working only half a day.


Looking ahead in 2010 – putting our children first and demanding excellence

Education was financed from government income supplemented by large amounts of assistance from donor governments in the early 80’s. They funded everything from school and classroom construction to teacher training to curriculum development to administration. Most of this assistance was channelled through government.  But since 2000, they have been chased away. If we are to get education back on its feet we need the international community to help us but they will not give money to the ZANU PF-controlled part of government who have diverted aid money direct into party coffers or private pockets.


So parents are on their own carrying a heavy burden when they are unemployed and cannot trade without police harassing them. Should parents continue to pay fees, levies and top-ups for an education that will not make their children full citizens who can earn a living? Should parents continue to pay for a standard of education lower than the colonial education system when they were promised free primary and affordable secondary education? Zimbabwe needs to produce qualified young people who do not shun hard work.





What is needed to deliver a better education system that can make our children employable adults is the following:

  • They must start afresh and write a better curriculum with vocational subjects – both commercial and technical that will produce a skilled school-leaver who can provide adequate self- employment.
  • Teachers must teach by developing understanding and skills and not learning like a parrot to prepare for exams. Teachers and administrators will need to be re-trained to accommodate new approaches to teaching and learning.
  • The administration of schools needs to be democratic with more participatory decision-making. Stop the violence in schools. Discipline is acceptable but we say no to violence.
  • A subject which teaches human rights, good governance, and democratic practice will need to be introduced to the curriculum in order to re-orient both teachers and pupils to a society which values individuals, imagination and creativity for full understanding.
  • Examinations and the fees systems will have to be changed – we cannot pay for our children to fail because they have not learnt anything.

In January 2010, ahead of the new school year, WOZA has the following demands:

  • Teachers must produce quality teaching and show that they are committed to the learning of all their pupils equally.
  • Education authorities must utilise the vehicles that are being purchased to supervise teachers and demand more discipline in schools.
  • Teachers must stop demanding top-ups from parents and the Ministry must prohibit this practice.
  • The Ministry must work to produce a new and relevant curriculum as recommended above.
  • Parents will do their best to pay reasonable fees set by Ministry and levies set by properly constituted and democratic parents meetings at the beginning of each year – we will not accept any fee or levy changes in 2010.