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.