Category Archives: Strategic Non Violence Theory

Theoretical papers that are used by WOZA Activists to demand social justice.

Huge amount of Police deployed fail to stop WOZA members march for love

Anti riot Police deployed here, there and everywhere at street corners, attempt to disturb the Bulawayo Valentine’s Day protest. The police officers actively chased women away from each other as they tried to gather. A further two landrover vehicles with over 10 officers also drove helter skelter jumping from their truck to scatter groups of women. A 8 tonne truck was also stationed in Herbert Chitepo Street with a contingent of officers jumping in and out of the vehicle to scatter women.

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, on foot to participate in the protest were followed by a double cab with 6 officers from the law and order department. These officers took countless pictures and video footage of the 2 leaders as they awaited the 1115am start time at one of the start point. They then followed the protest taking footage of the whole activity.

As Williams and Mahlangu started the protest the 8 tonne truck made a show of trying to bump the activists attempting to open the banner. The drive also kept hooting to try to disturb them. Eventually a sufficient number of members drew close enough so that the protest march could move towards the government complex, Mhlahlandlela. Once the protest started, many police officers were looking down at their shoes, embarrassed at their previous behaviour. The big truck drove away leaving the peaceful protest. Two other protests, one near the High Court and another in Joshua Nkomo Street managed to start and proceed without disturbance. All three protest groups with over 1250 members finally arrived at the government complex.

A police cordon at the entrance of the Mhlahlandlela Government complex blocked the activists from delivering the petition to the Resident minister Eunice Moyo. The protest programme continued. Four leaders, including Williams and Mahlangu made pavement speeches citing the reasons for the protest and made demands for free primary school education delivered by 30 December 2014. As the speeches were about to come to an end, two over 80 year old grandmothers, took the floor to tell the police that ‘they did not want to be herded like cattle as they dispersed’.

After the closing slogan – umkhonto wo thando – Zhii (the love spear rules), Williams and Mahlangu led the crowd in dispersing, toward the nearby bus terminus to catch their commuter buses home. A small delay in the crowd dispersal occurred when two police trucked blocked the road near Ross Camp, the provincial headquarters of the police. This caused the members to have to walk around the trucks to get to commuter ranks.

WOZA leaders decry the waste of resources used to deploy over 150 police officers from early morning, to monitor and disturb peaceful women from handing out roses and constitution pocket books to Bulawayo residents. “There is a severe shortage of police officers to do the work of arresting criminals and investigating looters of public funds. However police officers are never in short supply when there are peaceful women exercising their democratic rights by marching to ask for love or demanding that constitution be activated”. Said WOZA National coordinator Jenni Williams

WOZA Harare members love tokens rebuffed by police beatings

ABOUT 980 Harare members took part in the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Valentine’s Day protest to Parliament in Kwame Nkrumah Street. Marching peacefully in two formations, members were undisturbed and reached parliament to find over 30 Anti Riot Police blocking the entrance to Parliament, signing songs to deliver a message for respect and activation of the constitution.

Members then gathered close and 10 speeches were made outlining the demands on parliament and the situation of women and children in Zimbabwe. WOZA National coordinator and Celina Madukani then went into the august house reception to deliver the petition and roses. However they were informed that the clerk of parliament, and the speaker were in a meeting together and could not be disturbed. The activists realising that this was another delaying tactic decided to leave the petition on the reception table.

These misgivings had proven correct as the anti riot police had begun to disperse and beat the peacefully signing women outside. Over 10 members reported being beaten from behind as they disperse and all had visible swelling and bruising on their upper arms. The beatings were carried out by anti riot officers in black uniforms and it is unclear why their uniform differs from the normal blue uniform.

As part of the protest WOZA members handed our red roses and summary constitution pocket books to bystanders. Unfortunately WOZA did not have many copies and people hung around asking for these and many followed the procession trying to lay their hands on the constitution. The desperation for information evident to all those who were distributing information. WOZA wish to call on parliament and civic society at large to make greater effort to fill this knowledge and information vacuum. Zimbabweans have always shown a hunger for information but they seem to be intentionally disempowered. Zimbabwe seems to have a parliament that neglects awareness raising on the Constitution, a year later no such program has been started. Members of Parliament also seem to ignore the need for such a program during house sessions.

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were followed through the city centre by obviously high ranked suit wearing intelligence officers until they managed to outsmart them and leave the city centre.
see yesterday briefing statement here

WOZA take right to protest complaint to African Commission

On 13th April 2013 Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) legal representatives from Washington based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed a communication to the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights during its 53rd session in Banjul, The Gambia.

The applicants in this communication are Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu and WOZA. The two WOZA leaders have been arrested over 50 times in the 10 years of WOZA’s existence. Williams has filed as the official representative of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).

The communication demonstrates Zimbabwe’s clear and systematic pattern of suppression of WOZA’s rights to engage in peaceful protest and public demonstrations. It details over 24 incidents of violations over the course of two years of the Applicants’ rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, non-discrimination, and equal protection of the law-all protected by the African Charter.

Article 6 of the Charter states that every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person. No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In particular, no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained. Article 9 of the Charter, protects the right to freedom of expression, and states that every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.

WOZA are of the view therefore that the right to engage in peaceful protest is an “essential and constituent element of democracies” and anchored by the twin pillars of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

Pending the finalization of this matter the two activists and WOZA members have requested the African Commission to grant provisional measures interdicting the Republic of Zimbabwe from interfering in any way with the Applicant’s right to peaceful protest and public demonstrations, particularly in the time period between the date of filing this communication and the 2013 Zimbabwean elections. In particular, the Applicants requested the African Commission to interdict the Republic of Zimbabwe to refrain from arresting or detaining the Applicants and other members of WOZA when they are engaging in peaceful protest and public demonstrations as protected by the Charter.

The applicants also requests that the Commission orders the Republic of Zimbabwe take measures to facilitate the right to engage in peaceful protest and public demonstrations and remove any restriction of the rights of freedom of expression and assembly in law or practice that is incompatible to the Human and Peoples Rights Charter.

The timing of this communication is due to escalation of repression on civic society organisations and the shrinking space for exercising and protecting human rights as Zimbabwe gears for harmonised election.

WOZA took this course of action after the Zimbabwe Republic Police have failed to respect the Supreme Court ruling of 26 November 2010. (Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu v. Phathekile Msipha, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, Judgment No. SC 22/10). The ZRP continue to clamp down on WOZA and the repression has taken the form of criminalising peaceful processions and WOZA gatherings. The police have disturbed hundreds of peaceful processions, indiscriminately beating and arresting over 3000 members. During the 10th peaceful processions of Saint Valentine’s Day on 13 February, in Harare and in Bulawayo on 14 February 2013, police deployed tear gas, beat and arrested members.

Additionally, WOZA members who were marching on 13th November 2012 to demand Bulawayo city council adhere to water load shedding timetables and that the council deal with politicisation of water supply were beaten, insulted and dumped at a graveyard. The level of tribal insults and the symbol of dumping the members at the graveyard are serious threats against the organisation and its members. WOZA analysis points to a more direct tribal repression being practiced in Bulawayo by Police officers based there. This repression is part of the marginalisation of the region despite the fact that the orders carried out by Bulawayo police officers originate from the same command structure in Harare.

Despite this harassment by Police officers, WOZA have painstakingly attempted to engage the police leadership. Specific request have been that they follow the legal guidelines on dispersing peaceful protests rather than perpetrating abuses. When this failed, letters of complaint were written and ignored. The Joint Monitoring and Operating Committee (JOMIC) refused to deal with WOZA complaints arguing that their mandate was to focus on political parties despite clear requirements detailed under the global political agreement.

After the so-called Arab spring, repression increased and the Supreme Court ruling became completely ignored, leaving the human rights defenders without a route to hold the Police accountable and their right to assembly and peacefully express their views severely diminished.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a civic movement with a countrywide membership of over approximately 85,000 women and men formed in 2002 to lobby and advocate on issues affecting women and their families in Zimbabwe. WOZA participates in a variety of campaigns locally and internationally and has conducted hundreds of peaceful protests and public demonstrations in Zimbabwe since 2002. WOZA’s express aim is to mobilise Zimbabweans, especially women, to demand social justice and it educates its members about their rights and freedoms and asks them to fully participate in all civic processes. WOZA conducts civic education programmes and teaches its members nonviolent ways to speak out about their issues.

Bertha released on $100 bail

WOMEN of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) member, Bertha Sibanda, appeared in Tredgold Magistrates Court Bulawayo charged with contravening section 132 of the Code that is publicly exposing herself and being a nuisance. She was granted bail of $100 on condition that she resides at her given address and that she must not interfere with witnesses. She appeared before Court 2 presiding magistrate Mr. Mthethwa. She is defended by Kossam Ncube deployed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. She will appear for a further remand hearing on 4th March 2013.

The outline of the state case reads, “Charge C/S 77 (a) of the criminal law codification and reform act Chapter 9:23 “Public Indecency”. The complainant is the state. It reads; “4. On the 14 February 2013 at about 1600hrs, a group of women was brought at Z.R.P Bulawayo Central by Byo police reaction group following an unnotified gathering at Southampton Building. 5. Accused was amongst the other group of women that followed at Byo Central protesting against the police officers who had taken their partners. 6. Whilst gathered at Z.R.P Byo Central courtyard, accused Bertha Sibanda indecently exposed herself by taking off her blouse and skirt and remained wearing a pant in a public place and within view of Police officers and the crowd that was gathered at Z.R.P Byo Central courtyard. 7. Accused was arrested by number 9916561 cst Nkenjana who escorted her into the charge office where a report was opened. 8 accused acted unlawful.”

WOZA wish to make known that disrobing is a form of non violent protest practiced in many cultures and recognised by the foremost scholar of Nonviolence Professor Gene Sharp. Professor Sharp’s authored 198 methods of protest and symbolic public acts. Protest disrobings appears as number 22.

WOZA wish to object to the selective application of the law and waste of court resources in this case. “It is clear that if you are a members of Zanu PF you can strip without consequence in front of the American ambassador but if you happen to be a member of WOZA; you are denied access to food, held in police custody for 4 days then you are arraigned before court that will continue to use scarce resources to persecute you by prosecution. WOZA abbreviated protest checklist (Gene Sharp)

Members march on parliament

FIVE HUNDRED members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched in 2 separate protests converging on parliament at 2pm 25th June2012. This protest is part of the WOZA Occupy campaign to push for the release of a draft Constitution. The campaign features an occupation style of protest, a method illustrating the exercising of the right to peaceful protest, freedom of assembly and expression. The first group marched past four Riot police who are always stationed at Africa Unity Square gardens. As they awaited the arrival of the second procession, Riot police came out of the side door of parliament and began to disperse the protest threatening to beat the members. A parliamentary officer tried to argue that the protest had a legitimate demand and presence at parliament but the police and plain clothed intelligence officer ignored him and chased away members who were still at the door.

One of the WOZA leaders confronted the senior police officer saying to him, “if you beat one of us you will have caused a problem and we will not disperse.” It seems this message was taken to heart and no one was beaten.

The dispersing group joined up with the second procession and a stand-off ensured. The police officers stood in a line trying to block the protest surging forward back to the door of parliament. This prompted the activists to sit down to hold their ground. The police officers retreated watching for some minutes as the protest continued peacefully.

After some minutes WOZA National coordinator Jenni Williams officially dispersed the protest indicating that the message had been delivered.

Large groups of members then proceeded several city blocks towards the bus terminus continuing their singing and sloganeering. No arrests were made.

The protest message contained in the flyer being distributed will be as follows: – Politicians be warned stop your bickering and scheming and release the draft. – Demands an end to police and military occupation of our streets. – Provide notice to them that WOZA members will mobilise a nationwide boycott of any Election called without a new Constitution and referendum. – The protest also serves to demand end to elite occupation of our systems of government and counter the calls for another government of national unity.

Some Constitutional demands being made by WOZA members – The head of state /government has too many unchecked executive powers for a Democracy. – Removal of excessive powers of the Attorney General and makes this position serve only as legal advisor to president and proposes to create a National Prosecuting Authority.           – Gender equality not male domination in parliament – 50/50 non negotiable. – The reduction of the number of Constituencies from 210 and introduction of a devolved house of representatives. – WOZA members feel that the issue of dual citizenship is vital to create a climate where Zimbabweans can come home to help rebuild and develop their country.

Read about Overcoming Fear –

Overcoming Fear


With thanks to Centre For Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS)

Inspiration from Martin Luther King Jnr

Letter from a Birmingham Jail 2011 by Martin Luther King

Download a brief introduction to WOZA

Introduction to WOZA

Read Gene Sharps 198 methods of Non Violent Protest

198 methods of protest checklist english shona and ndebele