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Mayor no show as Police block WOZA protest to City Hall

WOMEN of Zimbabwe Arise members numbering 150 made it to the steps of the City Hall Mayors office but senior ranking police officers blocked their access to engage the Mayor and the Mayor did not attend to address the aggrieved members, his voters. This was the third day of protest bemoaning the Bulawayo water woes.

Four of the five protests were disrupted at the start of their march by police officers who grabbed their banners and placards and threatened to beat the members.

The 3 days series of protests followed meetings with council officials in their suburban offices. Since 1st November, over 800 members conducted deputations or sent delegations to council officers to lodge complaints about water problems. Officials at most of these centres referred members to Council officers in Tower block where technical staff work and to the Mayor at City Hall.   As a result the Monday protest was to Council Tower block, Tuesday to the Government complex where the Ministry of Water is housed and then the final protest to City Hall.

WOZA has been communicating with the Council PR Department and received a letter dated 29 October 2012 (BMN/W1/27), from the Town Clerk. This is the last paragraph in full, “Bulawayo City Council is committed to entering into a dialogue with you and your members to discuss more issues regarding the water crisis and water shedding. Council is available to provide further information to clarify issues on water raised by your organization.” Following up on this as a genuine invitation WOZA found their way blocked by Police on all 3 days of the protest campaign.

Those that made it to the steps of City hall on 14 November 2012, were greeted by very senior uniformed and those wearing plain clothes. The officers’ primary objective seemed to be to disperse the protest and attempted to take WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu to the police station which is located across the road to discuss the water problems. When asked if they had a mandate to act officially for city council they failed to give a plausible answer.

Dispersing the protest, Williams advised members gathered that negotiation with police to secure an address by the Mayor had failed and that the invitation issued by the Town clerk a false promise of dialogue. The WOZA leader then advised members to mobilise the ‘recall petition processes for Bulawayo councilors to be recalled by the electorate as they had failed to meet members or deal with the water crisis.

WOZA demands included the following
1.    City council and the Minister of Water must convene public hearings and come up with a consulted plan of action on the water problems.
2.    Members demand an END to water load shedding that extends beyond 24 hours and keep to timetables.
3.    City council must supply water purifying tablets
4.    City council must devise more effective methods of supplying residents with clean water in an orderly manner.
5.    There is already an outbreak of diseases and the health delivery systems cannot cope with the queues and demand for drips and medication. The Health Department must also have a disaster management plan in place for all residents to inspect and be able to input to.
6.    Demand increase to 100 litres per family per day from water bowser allocation, 40 litres is not enough for a family of five.
7.    Stop charging penalties; we are already penalised by the water crisis.
8.    Please help control fairly the access to boreholes and stop unscrupulous opportunists pretending to ‘own’ the borehole.

Demands to the minister
9.    Firstly we have to make these demands through the Mayor due to centralised power and lack of access.
10.    Honourable Mayor, tell the Minister that he must be accountable. He has made many empty promises but not delivered a single promise. He promised the water crisis would be dealt with by the first week of October but a month later we are thirsty. He must explain what he has done with the money he told us he had in his pocket.
11.    We demand that the minister also conduct a consultative process and come up with a comprehensive plan to bring water to Bulawayo. We demand this be done in a non partisan way separated from anyone’s political ambitions.
12.    Honourable Mayor we demand that you tell him and all your councillors that we are tired of being used as political tools. We demand constitutional devolution so that we can determine our own destiny. We are sick and tired of perennial problems and politicisation of our basic rights. Bob Marley sang these words, “you fool some of the people sometime but you can’t fool all the people all the time.’

Although the officers tried their best to be professional and no members were beaten, they still violated rights to freedom of expression and assembly of the participation and barred access to elected city officials. WOZA would like to nonetheless commend the officer commanding Bulawayo Chief Inspector Rangwani for finally realizing that arrests and beating will not deter the WOZA members. We applaud his effort to professionalise police response and encourage him to continue on this path to respect for democracy.

Valentine’s Day campaigns

Sharing Love
In 2007, WOZA observes its fifth Valentine’s campaign. It was on Valentine’s Day 2003 that WOZA held its first peaceful demonstration and Tough Love as born. Valentine’s Day was chosen as a significant date in the WOZA calendar because of the association with love – love of self, of family, of community and of country.

A History of WOZA and Valentine’s Day
In 2003, WOZA marched against violence in Bulawayo and Harare, calling on Zimbabweans to ‘learn to love again’. In Bulawayo, 14 women and one man were arrested and held in appalling conditions for 24 hours. They were charged under the Public Order Security Act (POSA) and then released. The Harare protest was conducted outside the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office. Riot police arrested over 49 members, including a 65-year-old Dominican Nun. Only one member, Jennifer Williams, was charged and all members were released within hours of arrest.

2004 saw WOZA take to the streets again with the theme, ‘choose love over hate’. Whilst it had been originally planned to march in Bulawayo, Harare and Victoria Falls, the marches in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls had to be postponed. In Victoria Falls, police threatened organisers who decided to postpone. In Bulawayo, police refused to allow the protest to go ahead and a court application taken by WOZA was never heard in the High Court. In Harare, police told organisers that they would shoot to kill if the women marched. Despite these threats, WOZA marched in four suburban centres in Harare. In Chitungwiza, they marched into the police station and handed over Valentine cards. When police accepted the cards, the march was declared a success.

‘The power of love can conquer the love of power’ was the message WOZA marched with in 2005. Peaceful protests were successfully conducted in Bulawayo and Harare. In both protests police did not respond during the protest but arrested members as they disbursed. In Bulawayo, 72 women had a hard time in custody. Police tried every dirty trick – they hid members away in cupboards to avoid them having access to lawyers and harassed them into paying admission of guilt fines but lawyers finally managed to gain access and obtain their release. In Harare, the few members arrested were also released on admission of guilt deposit fines as they too lacked access to their lawyers. The campaign was a very important part of getting Zimbabweans out to vote for the March 2005 Parliamentary Election.

In 2006, WOZA called for ‘Bread and Roses’ on Valentine’s Day, bread signifying the need for affordable basic commodities and roses signifying the need for dignity and the better things in life. In Bulawayo, 181 men and women and 14 babies were arrested and held for one night before being released. In Harare, 242 women and five babies were arrested and held under terrible conditions for four days. Given the appalling nature of the conditions and the psychological pressure that the women were subjected to, several women paid admission of guilt fines. 63 defiant souls endured the harsh conditions to be taken to court on day four and be released on free bail. The Valentine 63 were charged under the Miscellaneous Offences Act with ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace’. They were finally acquitted in August 2006 in a trial that lasted seven months with 13 courts appearances. In his judgement, the magistrate declared that the women had been illegally detained and had been held in inhumane and degrading conditions.

In 2007, WOZA will be commemorating the fifth Valentine’s campaign with the theme:
‘The People’s Charter: giving you a better life, a better Zimbabwe’.

WOZA launch report on the effects of fighting repression with love

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) launched a report detailing the political violence experienced by their members in Harare on Wednesday 19 March 2008 at an event attended by diplomats, civic society leaders and members of WOZA and MOZA. The report is entitled “The effects of fighting repression WITH LOVE”.

The report is a result of research conducted by WOZA on what violations its members have gone through as women human rights defenders and who the perpetrators of these abuses are. The report was launched to make public the findings and to urgently draw attention to the risks faced by women activists as Zimbabwe braces itself for an election. It is intended that those who read the report will be motivated to take action to remedy the damage done to millions of people’s lives by a violent dictatorship.

The meeting was chaired by WOZA’s partners, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who vocalised their praise for the detail in the report and for the need for the women human rights defenders to be respected and for there to be justice for the abuses. ZLHR Board member and lawyer, Sarudzai Njerere said, ‘the report is an important tool in documenting what Zimbabweans have experienced’ and that ‘we should all join WOZA in standing up for social justice”.

Prominent activist and WOZA trustee, Mary Ndlovu launched the report by giving a brief outline of its contents. She highlighted that it encompasses the police response to peaceful protests by WOZA; that the majority of women interviewed reported multiple human rights violations; that it is apparent that police would like to intimidate and deter women from participation and that the police are in violation of domestic and regional professional codes and are committing criminal law offences all of which call for punishment although none seems to be forthcoming due to a breakdown and partial way the justice system now operates.

She went on to point out that the Zimbabwean government officials who give order to beat or detain the human rights defenders render Zimbabwe in violation of its own constitution and in breach of obligations under international law.

A WOZA member with her four-year-old daughter, who was arrested together with her mother when she was three-months-old, spending three days in police custody.Two WOZA members also gave testimonies of their experiences at the hands of the Uniformed Branch and Law and Order department of the ZRP. One woman in the company of her four-year-old daughter, testified about their arrest and detention in horrid conditions for three days in 2004, well over the 48hour detention period permitted under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Her daughter was only three months old at the time and she only had two nappies with her and had to fight to access water to wash them when they became soiled. When members of WOZA tried to send disposable nappies in for her baby, police officers misappropriated them and she never received them. Despite this and further arrests and beatings, she remains an active member of WOZA.

Another woman testified that she had been abducted from her home in Bulawayo with her 18-month-old grandchild at 4am by Law and Order officers. They threatened to kill her by throwing her and the child in a dam. She had also been seriously beaten across the breasts by police and had to undergo extended medical treatment. These testimonies are indicative of the experiences of peaceful activists and reflective of the physical and mental torture they undergo in fighting for their basic freedoms to be realised.

WOZA National Coordinator, Jenni Williams, outlined the recommendations highlighted in the report. She also went on to say that in the light of WOZA’s recent experience in Bulawayo on the 8th March 2008, International Women’s Day, where over 50 members were brutalised, just weeks before the upcoming 29 March election, a free and fair climate for elections does not exist.

The report calls on the Zimbabwean government to immediately end violence against its citizens and on the Zimbabwe Republic Police to honour their commitment to the Police Act and the SARPCCO Code of Conduct for police officers. It also calls on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to support human rights defenders rather than oppressive governments that deny people their domestically and internationally guaranteed rights and on the African Union (AU) to isolate representatives of the Zimbabwe government and any other government that fails to abide by its obligations under international law to respect human rights.

The international community was also called on to recognize the contribution of WOZA members as human rights defenders, and assist in the documentation and publicising of violations so that justice may be served in the future.

A further recommendation is for a Transitional Justice programme. The reports reads, “We call on Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans alike to assist in putting into place a mechanism which satisfies the wishes of the Zimbabwean people to see not retribution, but justice, truth and reconciliation, so that the guilty can do penance and the victims can feel healed of the many wounds they have suffered at the hands of state agents.”

Whilst the report made mention of the trauma experienced by WOZA women as a result of their experiences, it was felt that the findings are significant enough to be released in a separate report due for release soon. What is clear however is that the women have experienced more trauma in an independent Zimbabwe than in pre-Independence period.

To read a full copy of the report, click here: Fighting the effects of repression with love – report on political violence against WOZA members

Woza Moya – Shona – Africa Day Edition – May 2008



Sezvo nyika dzese dzemuAfrica dzichipemberera zuva re Africa Day viki rino, nengo dze WOZA dzakaona kusina kukosha kuita izvi. Musi wa 25 May izuva rekupemberera kugarisana kwakanaka nekubatana kwe Africa, asi hapana chekupemberera sezvo wurombo uchienderera mberi nemakore atinofanira kurarama achidzika. Chii chiripo chekupemberera sezvo maZimbabwe avasisina kuvimba kuti kodzero ravo rekuvhota richaremekedzwa. Atisi kuona kuti vatungamiri ve Africa vachirikuremekedza hunhu vachiziva kuti vari vanhu navo vemu Africa. Vanhu vakaita savaRobert Mugabe naThabo Mbeki vanoziva kuti munhu munhu ne vanhu.

Robert Mugabe munhu – anoonekwa nechi bhakera.
Awa ndiwo mashoko atirikuda kuudza vaMugabe nemusiwe Africa Day:
Va Robert Mugabe takukuzivai nemhirizhonga yamurikuunza kwatiri – vanhu vemuZimbabwe. Tino remekedza zvamakaita kuti tiwane Zimbabwe yakanaka asimhirizhonga yamurikuita inowonekwa nemaratidziro enyu echibhakera anakunaka. Vanhu vekuMatebeleland nekuMidlands vaitsigira ZAPU vakauraiwa panguva yeGukurahundi pakutanga kwegore ra 1980. Vagari vekumunda wePorta vakasangana nayo mhirizhonga iyi navo sezvo vaitsigira va Ndabaningi Sithole.Muna 2000 vakatanga chirongwa chekutora mapurazi zvisiri pamutemo vechishandisa mhirizhonga vachida kuranga maZimbabwe akaramba kuiiswa kwezvigamba mubumbiro remitemo, naizvozvo atichawani kudya kwakakwana. Mugore raa 2005 kwakaitiwa chirongwa che Operation Murambatsvina apa vaida kudzikisa hutsigiri hwe Movement for Democratic Change sevzo taibva musarudzo dza 31March 2005. Takuona chimwe chirongwa chinonzi ‘Operation Mavhotera papi’ apa vairanga vanhu vakateedzera kodzero ravo rekuvhota. Tirikuda kuti murangarire vesi remu bhayibheri rinoti zvinu zvese zvine nguva yazvo saka remekedzai kuti ma Zimbabwe akavhotera mutsauko March.

Thabo Mbeki munhu naye.
Awa ndiwo mashoko atirikuudza va Thabo Mbeki:
Pamaka batana ruoko navaRobert Mugabe mukati ‘akuna chakaipa muZimbabwe’vanhu vemuZimbabwe nevemunyika yenyu vakashamiswa nekuita kwenu. Kusava nehanya kwenyu kwakaratidzika nekunonoka kwenyu kutaura zvirikuitka munyika yenyu apo vanhu vachirasikirwa neupenyu hwavo pasina zvabaka pama. Apo tichiviga varikuraiwa nemapurisa nevarikuuraiwa mu South Africa tirikuti ropa ravo ririmawoko enyu. Toda kuti muchengetedze hunhu hwenyu muchi vanhu chedu muchiita zvamunotaura. Muchirinenguva yokuti murarame zvakanaka.

Kwasara viki rimwe kuti tiyende musarudzo dzekusarudza mutungamiri wenyika asi mhirizhonga irikuenderera mberi zvakanyanyisa. Tichitarisa mabasa eWOZA tichaedza nenzira dzese kuti tiudze vanhu kuti vano vhota. Tichavaudza kuti vanyasowongorora kuti vaMugabe ivo banotungamira ‘bato rakarwa hondo’ vakundikana kuunza Gutsaruzhinji. Nekuramba kupudisa zvakapuda musarudzo nenguva nekutanga mhirizhonga kuvanu vakavhota zvino ratidza kuti kuramba kwake rusununguko ruzere rwakafirwa nemagamba edu kuti mumwe nemumwe achava ne vhoti yake. KumaZimbabwe ose nga tivotereyi vaMorgan Tsvangirai timupe mukana kuva mutungamiri naye.

1.    ZANU PF inofanirwa kubvisa makempu e ma militia, voregedza mhirizhonga kuvana vemu Zimbabwe.

2.    Mapurisa ngavasunge vese varikukonzera mhirizhonga besingatyi.

3.    Tirikuti kuva tungamiriri vose varimumatongero enyika ropa rakateuka kuti mumwe ne mumwe ave nevhoti yake sakatichaenderera mberi neku vhota nekudzivirira vhoti yedu murunyararo.

4.    Tirikuti kuvarwiri verusununguko vechokwadi tibetserei kupedza mhirizhonga iripo nekutaura pachena varikupama mhirizhonga iyi muzita renyu

5.    Tinoda kuudza mapurisa kuti hakuna runyararo kana kusina kutongwa kwakanaka. Gamuchirai kuti maZimbabwe avhotera mutsauko saka regerai kushandiswa kuita mhirizhonga. Kana shanduko yauya yauya. WOZA ichada kuti pave nekuongororwa kwevashandi vemuhurunde zvichivatanidzwa nemapurisa nemasoja. Isu vagarisani nemi tinokuzivai nezvese zvamurukuita zvakaipa nezvakanaka hatizokanganwi tererai zvakanaka vakuru venyu vachawana zvakanaka zvakawanda kanavakusiyi basa vachienda kupenjeni asi imi muchasiiwa pachena makutongerwa mhosva dvenyu.

6.    Hurumende yeZimbabwe yogadzirisa zvirikudiwa ne SADC pakuita sarudzo vozo teedzera mirao yacho, ne ZEC yovumirwa kuita basa rao zvakanaka

7.    Tirikuti kune ZEC ngairatidze hunyanzi hwayo  nekusadeera kudivi rimwe rematongerwo enyika, vaone kuti zvapuda musarudzo zvabudiswa pachena ’24hrs’ kubva kuvarwa kwemabhokisi atavhotera.

8.    Tirikushedzera kunyika dzemu SADC, African Union ne United Nations kuti vatumire vanotarisa nezvesarudzo  munaraunda dzese dzeZimbabwe kuitira kuti tive nechivimbo chekuvhota. Vanofanirwa kutaura pachokwadi zvirikuitika ikoko

9.    Kuhurumende ye South Africa tirikukumbira kuti moisa pachena mutongo wevanhu vakatanga mhirizhonga [Xenopphobia attacks].

Tirikuda kutenda masangano akazvimirirra oga emuno nedzimwe nyika nekuratidza hanya kumuri ye Zimbabwe – vakazviita nekuratidzira ku Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa ne Botswana maviki afura. Tirikuva koka kuti ngavauye vazoongorora sarudzo dziriku uya  nekuti vagare vachitinamatirawo sezvo tasvika murima rekuedza

Zvekupedzisira tirikuudza vanhu vemu Zimbabwe kuti vave ne runyararo voona kuti vhoti yavo ichaveregwa muviki inotevera

Mirira ramangwana remwanawako nekuvhotera mutungamiri achaunza Gutsaruzhinji musi wa27 June 2008


Trial of Williams and Mahlangu postponed to 22 January 2009

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, leaders of WOZA, appeared in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court this morning before a packed courtroom. They were on trial for charges relating to the combined cases of the 16 October 2008 case and a 19 June 2004 arrest. The state, represented by Mr. Shawarira, was not ready for trial however and so Magistrate Msipa postponed the trial until 22 January 2009. All bail and reporting conditions were removed after an application for relaxation by the defence.

Williams and Mahlangu were arrested on 16th October at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex. They were part of a group of 200 demanding that the humanitarian crisis in the country be de-politicised and declared a national disaster. They were denied bail by Magistrate Charity Maphosa and detained in Mlondolozi Prison for three weeks before being granted bail through an appeal to the High Court. They were placed on strict bail conditions, which included reporting to police twice a week and not being allowed to travel outside a 40 kilometer radius of Bulawayo without written permission from a magistrate.

The pair had been with C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23: “any person who acts together with one or more other persons present with him or her in any place or at any meeting with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of forcibly disturbing the peace, security or order of the public …”

On Friday 28th, the State summonsed Magodonga Mahlangu for a arrest in 2004 under c/s 7(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act chapter 9:15 – “acting in a manner which is likely to lead to a breach of the peace or to create a nuisance or obstruction”. Jenni Williams did not actually receive the summons although her name is reflected in the summons given to Mahlangu.

Both cases were combined into one trial.None of the state witnesses were present in the courtroom for the 2008 matter. Only one of the state witnesses for the 2004 matter was present.

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu look forward to travelling outside of a 40 kilometre radius of Bulawayo and thank all friends who offered their solidarity.

Magodonga Mahlangu’s acceptance speech – 26th Annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, 23 November 2009, The White House, Washington, DC

Good evening Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, members of Congress and the diplomatic corps, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honour to be standing here accepting this award tonight and I thank you. The accolade of winning the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award should be a cause for great celebration. Yet, I find that even as I stand here, humbled and grateful, for the recognition, I find little to celebrate.

The Global Political Agreement signed in September of last year should also have been a cause for celebration. This agreement brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was to be a foundation for dialogue and cooperation between political parties.  A year later, however, we find ourselves in a situation of great uncertainty and violence.

Human rights defenders continue to be targeted for arbitrary arrest, harassment, torture and abduction by state agents.  Oppressive laws designed to silence democratic voices are still in place and still being used against us. My colleague, Jenni Williams, and I return to court on 7 December, facing charges of disturbing the peace for saying that people need food aid. We are facing five years in prison.

This harassment is also visited upon ordinary citizens. A badly paid police force routinely solicits bribes from people going about their business. Innocent people are arrested for loitering and vendors often have their goods looted for the personal use of police.

The economy has also not recovered enough to bring relief to the average household. We see food on supermarket shelves, but we cannot eat with our eyes. Unemployment remains at close to 95%, and with informal trade criminalised, most people remain locked in a daily struggle to feed themselves and their families.

The healthcare and education systems remain in crisis. While some schools have reopened, more and more children are dropping out as parents continue with the daily struggle to decide whether to put food on the table for the day or send a child to school for a week. Child-headed households are also becoming increasingly prevalent as HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, stress and a collapsed healthcare system combine to hound our people into early graves.  In Zimbabwe, the average life expectancy for a woman is 34 years.

This is the backdrop against which WOZA operates, providing Zimbabweans across political lines with a platform to speak out about their issues. Almost every month for the last seven years, women and men have taken to the streets to demand social justice and hold their leaders accountable through peaceful direct action. Invariably these peaceful protests have led to conflict with the state.

Thousands of my colleagues have faced arrest, torture and abduction – their only crime, wanting a better life for themselves and their families. I myself have been arrested more than 30 times in the last seven years for peaceful actions.  Once, I was even arrested for teaching women how to make lemon jam!

These arrests do not deter us because WOZA has empowered us to believe that we deserve better. We deserve to have a roof over our head, food in our stomachs, our children in schools and the nation working. We deserve to live in dignity and free from fear; and it is our right to have our voices heard and respected. That is why I joined WOZA. While Mugabe boasts of having degrees in violence, I and 75,000 WOZA members who stand beside me, have degrees in non-violence.

Our aim is to uphold universality and nonviolence, for a better life-for ourselves and for our children. The Robert F Kennedy award not only validates WOZA’s work, it amplifies our voices. Your efforts send the message that we are not alone and that the world is watching.

I would like to appeal to my sisters and brothers from Africa, guarantors to the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Since it was signed last September, there have been thousands of violations. We call on SADC and all friends present to ensure that the spirit and the letter of the GPA are fully respected and implemented.

We appeal to you to help us rebuild our healthcare and education systems and ensure that every person has enough to eat. We are not asking you to solve our problems for us. We are asking you to support our choices and help us implement them.

In the words of Robert F. Kennedy, “The future is not a gift: it is an achievement. Every generation helps make its own future.” Help us achieve ours.

I thank you.

WOZA demand changes in education system in 2010

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has launched a report on the state of education in Zimbabwe entitled ‘Looking back to look forward – education in Zimbabwe: a WOZA perspective‘. The recommendations contained in the report form the basis of WOZA’s current campaign on education.

The education of their children has been a major driving force for Zimbabweans and WOZA members in particular, and the motivation behind much activism. In the first decade after Independence, the education system in Zimbabwe reached its peak and was heralded as the best in Africa. In the last decade however, it has been pushed to its decline by power and politics. The report reflects on how this decay took place in order to expose this injustice and to demand its immediate remedy.

The recommendations included in the report include:

  • A revamping of the curriculum to ensure its relevance to the children who learn.
  • Introducing more vocational subjects – both commercial and technical -and providing opportunities for children to be attached in work places during their senior years.
  • Allowing children to be placed according to their abilities and their interests instead of providing the same curriculum for all
  • Teaching methods need to stress skills development rather than rote learning of knowledge in preparation for exams.
  • Administration of schools needs to be less autocratic and more tended to participatory decision-making; physical abuse, which is common, must stop.
  • A subject which teaches human rights, good governance, and democratic practice will need to be introduced to the curriculum
  • Teachers and administrators will need to be re-trained to accommodate new approaches to teaching and learning.
  • Examination systems will have to be revamped.

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.

The full report can be found by clicking on the following link: Looking back to look forward -education in Zimbabwe: a WOZA perspective1

WOZA marks International Women’s Day with education protest in Bulawayo

WOZA is clear about what it want - a placard at the protest in Bulawayo 08.03.10

WOZA is clear about what it want – a placard at the protest in Bulawayo 08.03.10

SIX HUNDRED members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched to the High Court in Bulawayo today in protest against the utterances of the Minister of Education, Senator David Coltart, made in Parliament last week. The Minister said that he would not stop teachers from receiving the illegal incentive payments demanded from parents. Minister Coltart had been invited to receive a petition that the peaceful demonstrators were delivering but could not attend due to a prior commitment. A clerk at the court received the petition instead.

WOZA vigorously oppose the practice of teachers refusing to teach children until their parents provide them with cash incentives. These ‘top-ups’, over and above the usual school fees and school levies which most parents are unable to afford anyway, are just another nail in the coffin of the education system in Zimbabwe. In a recent report on education released in January 2010, entitled ‘Looking Back to Look Forward – a WOZA perspective on education in Zimbabwe’, WOZA demanded that the Ministry of Education stop this practice immediately. It is therefore incredibly disheartening for the Minister to publicly state that they have no intention of doing so.

Four simultaneous protests began and converged upon the High Court. Police officers and clerks at the court merely watched the peaceful protest, listening to the song sung by the demonstrators – “women are crying for an education for their children. Their tears are sorrowful.”  WOZA chose International Women’s Day for the protest as the education of their children is an issue close to the heart of every mother.

WOZA National Coordinator, Jenni Williams addressed members outside the Court, explaining that Minister Coltart’s utterances in parliament were unfortunate as they promoted illegal incentives and corruption. Magodonga Mahlangu lead the singing and sloganeering that finally dispersed the peaceful group.

After the protest dispersed, two plain-clothed police officers cornered Williams and Mahlangu outside the Post Office. As they called for back up the activists calmly walked away.

WOZA leaders were recently summoned by the co-ministers of Home Affairs and instructed to notify police of any processions despite the fact that WOZA does not need to notify police under the current exceptions as it is not a political organisation. Before being dismissed, Minister Giles Mutsekwa of the MDC delivered a subtle threat that they could be ambushed on their return to Bulawayo that day.  It is unclear as to if it was intended as an active threat but in the current security situation, activists remain vigilant about continued reports of threats on civic society leaders.

WOZA and MOZA deliver views on constitution to Parliament in peaceful march in Harare

At noon today, approximately 600 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise, including representatives from Bulawayo and rural Matabeleland, delivered their views on the constitution to Parliament with a peaceful procession through the streets of Harare. No arrests have been reported as yet but this may change as community leadership are still verifying the safe return of members.

Three processions began at different locations in the city centre, converging on Parliament where a copy of a report containing WOZA’s views on the constitution was handed over. The report is entitled ‘the rising of women means the rising of the nation – no more poverty and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit’.

The peaceful group sang as they marched, handing out abbreviated copies of the report, much to the delight of bystanders, several of whom joint in the procession. Their songs included, “ukaona madzimai when you see women they are rising in unity”.

Whilst members waited at Parliament for the arrival of the third group, police arrived in full riot gear, causing people to disperse. When the third procession arrived however, members regrouped to sing, “tirinhume takatumwa kunora bumbiro – we are messengers sent to write a constitution.”

Jenni Williams, WOZA’s National Coordinator, then handed over a copy of the report to a parliamentary official who accepted it whilst asking why WOZA is always demonstrating outside Parliament. Williams addressed the peaceful crowd during which time a police officer politely tapped Williams on the shoulder, asking to please have a word with her.  Ignoring him, Williams instructed members to peacefully disperse, which the police officers present were happy to allow.

Members were happy and excited that they were able to deliver their views on the constitution in a peaceful manner and passed by the offices of The Herald, wanting to test media freedom in Zimbabwe by leaving them a copy of the report as well.

WOZA would like to commend the Zimbabwe Republic Police for their restraint and professionalism in allowing our members to practice their right to peaceful demonstration.

To read a full copy of the report submitted to COPAC, please click here: WOZA presentation to COPAC 29.11.10

More photos of the march can be found on our Facebook page.