Woza Moya newsletter December 2008 – English edition

Human Rights of Women – Human Rights for All:
Universal Declaration for Human Rights 60 years after.
Zimbabweans – Stand up for the TRUTH and it will set you free of this regime.

WOZA members are commemorating the 16 Days of Activism and the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The truth is that there is nothing to celebrate, human rights abuses are on the increase and Zimbabweans are dying day by day. Politicians who call themselves the government do not show that they care. As WOZA members expose what is happening, they are beaten and put in jail. Their only crime is peaceful protests that tell the truth about the plight of Zimbabweans.

What we think about the political agreement, ministerial portfolios.
Zimbabwe is now a “complex emergency”, a failed state, without a functioning government and with the destruction of the economy, the infrastructure, and social capital. This requires an immediate political solution and we call on the international community, and in particular the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), to act in defense of the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe.

In the meanwhile we call on all Zimbabweans to refuse to recognise or legitimise in any way any and all ‘government officials’, we should cease to use the word government but refer to them as ‘Zanu PF, the illegitimate ruling party’.

About the political agreement – it remains not worth the paper it was written on until it is genuinely implemented. Even if implemented Zanu PF’s behaviour indicates that they are not serious about sharing power. It has been WOZA’s long-term position that we require a transitional authority whose mandate should include dealing with the humanitarian crisis as an urgent priority, as all politicians can no longer be trusted to deal with this catastrophe.

Should there be some form of ‘unity’ government we will not accept Zanu PF holding the posts of home affairs, justice or women’s affairs. Our experiences as activists put us on the sharp edge of these posts and we therefore know how the destructive and violent Zanu PF policies filter down the structures of these ministries onto the baton stick that beats us until it draws blood or into the minds of police and prison officers that jail us while Women’s Affairs officials remain silent. They are even silent about the abduction of Jestina Mukoko, Director of Zimbabwe Peace Project.

We note the thread of gender equality running through the power sharing deal and applaud the effort made by the mostly male negotiators. Yet as we recently declared in the streets of Bulawayo, actions speak louder than words. WOZA therefore encourages the selecting of a gender equal cabinet, as we will not be silenced by empty promises.

16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Theme: Human Rights of Women – Human Rights for All: Universal Declaration for Human Rights 60 years after. WOZA has also adopted the theme. However WOZA members have boycotted any events organised or conducted by any current official from Zanu PF so called Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development in line with our view on current governance. We conduct non-violent protests all year round to demand our rights and will continue but Zimbabweans the time has come for you to join us as we demonstrate.

Zimbabweans you are not demonstrating enough – you spend days queuing and only complain to one another without acting. It is heartbreaking for a hardened WOZA activist to watch people in the queues day after day, watching the shoulders in front of them and not thinking of doing something to change their situation. We see that in Thailand, eight days of nonviolent determined action by a unified mass of people resulted in the removal of their Prime Minister. He was banned from politics by the court after he was found guilty of buying votes. Why can’t Zimbabweans learn a lesson from Thailand and act together to stop the mismanagement of our country.

As mothers of the nation, we therefore wish to tell Zimbabweans that if they do not ACT to DEMAND their rights, their children will judge them as cowards. Even a frog can decide to jump out of sewerage pond because it stinks. Do something but do it non-violently. Join ZCTU, join NCA and join our demos to change our plight.

The Universal Declaration for Human Rights came into being because of the work of a woman – Eleanor Roosevelt who is called the “First Lady of the World”. She was chairman of the Human Rights Commission during the drafting of this document. It was adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The real challenge, she liked to tell United Nations delegates in later years, was one of ”actually living and working in our countries for freedom and justice for each human being.” She also said, “People have a right to demand that their government will not allow them to starve”. We need to study the example of Eleanor and demand that human rights are respected in Zimbabwe. But our rights will not just be given to us we have to demand them.

Excerpts from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights- 60 years old

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 21. (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 23. (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

Zimbabweans – Stand up for the TRUTH and it will set you free of this regime