HUNDREDS of members of WOZA and MOZA marched peacefully through the streets of Mutare today to protest against the huge increases in water tariffs that have recently been introduced by the Zimbabwe Water Authority (ZINWA). There have been no reports of arrests so far.
Nearly 300 women and men marched for several blocks through the eastern city to the civic centre demanding access to affordable water and a more reliable service. Several bystanders rushed to join in the procession, some abandoning their selling, agreeing with the demands. The protestors also called for an end to violence against human rights defenders.
As they processed the group sang, â€œmvura yadhura ndomudana mwari yanguâ€ (water is expensive, oh my god) and handed out flyers calling for an end to violence against women.
Police arrived at the civic centre after the group had dispersed. No arrests have been reported so far but known intelligence officers were seen monitoring events. After the last demonstration in Mutare in August, several members had their homes visited by police and illegally searched. It is expected that similar harassment of activists will occur in the coming weeks.
This is the fourth WOZA demonstration in Mutare and the third peaceful street action this month (the other two being in Bulawayo and Harare) to call for an end to violence against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe. WOZA has recently released a report documenting incidences of political violence against its members, the full copy of which can be found below.