1,000 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise marched through central Bulawayo today to the offices of the state-owned Chronicle newspaper. As in the demonstration in Harare on Saturday, the peaceful protestors handed out Valentine cards, red roses and abbreviated copies of WOZA’s report on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe to excited passers-by. No arrests have been reported at the time of this release.
Five protests started separately and converged on the offices of the Chronicle. The peaceful protestors sang as they marched, handing out roses and Valentine cards to the citizens of Bulawayo, many of whom then proceeded to join in the demonstration, causing the numbers to grow as the group approached the Chronicle. People rushed out of shops and offices to join in the excitement and carnival atmosphere.
At the Chronicle offices, the group sat down outside the building whilst a journalist came out to interview Jenni Williams about the demonstration. It was explained to him that the demonstration was to launch the democracy report and to test media and civic freedoms under the GNU. Williams gave the journalist a copy of the report and a Valentine rose before the group dispersed without incident. No police officers were in sight at any stage of this process.
The report, entitled ‘Hearts starve as well as bodies – give us bread but give us roses too! Democratising Zimbabwe – an opportunity to shine!’ is a snapshot of community activists’ views on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe one year after the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU). It also urges Zimbabweans to participate in democratizing Zimbabwe.
Songs sung by the peaceful protestors included: “We want to expose this delay in writing our constitution, which will delay our getting our social justice“; “we don’t want the Kariba Draft” and “we need a Bill of Rights that respects us; send me around the country to consult on the constitution as WOZA respects people.”
To read a full copy of the report, click on the following link: Hearts starve as well as bodies – a WOZA perspective on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe