Having watched and waited to see if anyone would mobilise nonviolent action and having seen none to date, around 800 members of WOZA and MOZA began their rollout of peaceful actions in Bulawayo today.
The group started their protest at the provincial court on Herbert Chitepo and Leopold Takawira. They processed for several blocks through the city centre to the High Court. The targeting of the High Court was to lodge a people’s protest at the delay in announcing results. The group toyi toyied at the steps of the Court singing an iSindebele traditional (Sangoma) song – ‘Yindaba enjani ehlula amadoda’ (the vote is an issue men are failing to deal with). The leaders then took time to address the crowd, demanding that the results be announced, whereupon they placed their newsletters and placards on the steps before dispersing. This was all carried out much to the bemusement of police officers and court workers who man the entrance.
Police were seen to respond several minutes later, picking up all the flyers left outside the High Court – those that hadn’t been scooped up by eager bystanders. Leaders are still ascertaining whether all those that took part in the peaceful protest have made it home safely.
The aim of the march was to add WOZA’s voice to those calling on the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) to release the true results of the presidential election. The march was also to call for an end to state-sponsored violence that is reported to be happening in rural areas in retribution.
As they marched, the men and women handed out flyers (the text of which is included below) to the lunchtime crowd that rushed to see what was happening when they heard the singing. Such was the excitement caused by the procession that a group of 100 – 150 people followed the demonstration for the entire route, talking excitably amongst themselves, waiting to see what would happen. When the placards and flyers were left on the steps of the High Court, many people dashed forward to collect them, including several vehicles that stopped long enough for either passengers or the driver themselves to pick up the flyers. During the march, several cars were also observed to be hooting their horns and calling out support to the demonstrators.
WOZA was formed in 2003 amidst severe political violence to demonstrate love and courage to all Zimbabweans. At this time in our country, these motivations are particularly pertinent. WOZA would like to pay tribute to the brave men and women who in the face of great uncertainty and talk of repression defied the threats of a dying regime to speak out clearly and demand that their vote be respected. WOZA would also like to salute our brother and sisters in the police and army who demonstrated today that they are with the people.
WOZA has been encouraging Zimbabweans for the last few months to stand up for their children. People responded by going out to vote on 29 March. Now is the time to keep standing strong – a better future for our children is within our reach – we must just continue to demand it peacefully.
To read a copy of the newsletter, protesters were handing out, click here April 2008 Woza Moya newsletter – English/Ndebele