At noon today, approximately 600 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise, including representatives from Bulawayo and rural Matabeleland, delivered their views on the constitution to Parliament with a peaceful procession through the streets of Harare. No arrests have been reported as yet but this may change as community leadership are still verifying the safe return of members.
Three processions began at different locations in the city centre, converging on Parliament where a copy of a report containing WOZA’s views on the constitution was handed over. The report is entitled ‘the rising of women means the rising of the nation – no more poverty and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit’.
The peaceful group sang as they marched, handing out abbreviated copies of the report, much to the delight of bystanders, several of whom joint in the procession. Their songs included, “ukaona madzimai – when you see women they are rising in unity”.
Whilst members waited at Parliament for the arrival of the third group, police arrived in full riot gear, causing people to disperse. When the third procession arrived however, members regrouped to sing, “tirinhume takatumwa kunora bumbiro – we are messengers sent to write a constitution.”
Jenni Williams, WOZA’s National Coordinator, then handed over a copy of the report to a parliamentary official who accepted it whilst asking why WOZA is always demonstrating outside Parliament. Williams addressed the peaceful crowd during which time a police officer politely tapped Williams on the shoulder, asking to please have a word with her. Ignoring him, Williams instructed members to peacefully disperse, which the police officers present were happy to allow.
Members were happy and excited that they were able to deliver their views on the constitution in a peaceful manner and passed by the offices of The Herald, wanting to test media freedom in Zimbabwe by leaving them a copy of the report as well.
WOZA would like to commend the Zimbabwe Republic Police for their restraint and professionalism in allowing our members to practice their right to peaceful demonstration.
To read a full copy of the report submitted to COPAC, please click here: WOZA presentation to COPAC 29.11.10