56 WOZA members and 10 babies arrested in Harare today

Approximately 56 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) – 36 women, 20 men and 10 babies – have been arrested today in Kuwadzana, Harare. They were arrested at the local Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) office in Kuwadzana as WOZA members continued their ‘power to the people’ protest campaign. The peaceful human rights defenders delivered protests notes with their demands to the ZESA officers. They are currently being held at Harare Central Police Station, where they were moved under armed guard.

This morning, at 11am, WOZA members assembled at three different ZESA offices – Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Zengeza – holding simultaneous ‘tough love’ protests. Over 470 members from 10 different areas of Harare took part in the community-level protests.

The protests at Warren Park and Zengeza took place without incident and the participants were able to disperse before police arrived. In Zengeza, about 100 members gathered inside the ZESA office while about 300 members gathered outside. They sat in for over 30 minutes awaiting a response from officials but they were not addressed. The protest notes were accepted however.

At Kuwadzana, approximately 66 members were arrested and marched to the police station, which is next door. Once at the police station, police were seen beating two members. The extent of their injuries are as yet unknown.

Lawyers have been deployed but have failed to get access. Members trying to take in food were also turned away so the group of 56 and 10 babies will go hungry tonight.

The protests signify the launch of the ‘power to the people’ by March 2008 campaign.

The contact number for Harare Central is +263 4 777777. Please call and ask why innocent men, women and babies are being arrested for addressing legitimate consumer complaints to their service provider, ZESA.