Category Archives: Uncategorized

Magistrate refuses to remove Bulawayo Refugee 7 off remand; Masvingo 20 on trial

The seven members arrested in Bulawayo on Wednesday 17th June appeared again in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court  today. The case had been postponed from 19th October in order for the magistrate to give her ruling on the defence’s application for them to be removed off remand. Despite the state still not being ready, the magistrate refused to remove them off remand. Her reason – the state witness are waiting to testify and can’t keep coming and going to court! It does not appear the magistrate appreciated the irony inherent in her ruling.

Defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, immediately notified the court of his intention to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the charges. The activists are charged under Section 37 1 a of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘disturbing the peace, security or order of the public’.

In another matter, 20 members in Masvingo will appear on trial in Masvingo Magistrate’s Court on 28th October 2009 for an arrest on 7th March 2007. The group had been removed off remand on 16th July 2007 by Magistrate Nyamukomba and the state ordered to proceed by ways of summons. The group had appeared in court five times in 2007 with two trials failing to take off because no witnesses were willing to come forward. They are charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Both cases indicate the continuing repression against human rights defenders and the worsening situation in Zimbabwe.

Helping Zimbabweans to understand and write their own Constitution – with help from WOZA/MOZA

WOZA has produced a booklet ‘A guide to understanding the Constitution’, which has been included below.

The booklet is to aid people to contribute in consultations as well as to help members decide on their minimum standards and principles for a constitution. WOZA prepared the booklet to empower people with issues to debate publicly prior to the public consultations and to empower them to speak out during the consultations.

The English version: Helping Zimbabweans to understand and write their own Constitution

The Shona version: Kubatsira mhuri ye Zimbabwe kunzwisisa ne kunyora Bumbiro ravo re Mitemo

The Ndebele version: Ukuphathisa amazimbabwe ukuba bazwisise njalo balobe iSisekelo Sombuso sabo

Two women arrested in Mutare

Two women, Sibongile Matupe and Rose Rukwewo, an elderly woman, have been arrested in Mutare today following the peaceful protest in that city yesterday. The two women are currently at Mutare Central Police Station and look set to spend the night in custody. It is unclear why they were targeted for arrest or what charge, if any, will be laid against them.  Lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) are in attendance but have not been given access to the women. Law and Order officers are insisting that they finish ‘interviewing’ them before they will allow the lawyer access to his clients.

Police went door-to-door in Sakubva, a suburb of Mutare, searching for people who took part in yesterday’s peaceful protest action.  The two women were taken from their homes.

The arrest of these two women is a blatant violation of civil rights, as is the fact that they are being denied access to their lawyer.

Please call Mutare Central to protest the arrest of these women and to demand their immediate release on (+263 20) 31543 or 64212 or 63813 or 63814.

WOZA sues co-Ministers of Home Affairs

Four WOZA members, Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and Celina Madukani, have instructed Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to sue the co-Ministers of Home Affairs, Theresa Makone and Kembo Mohadi, over the conditions in Harare Central Police Station. The case refers to the six days that the four women spent in the holding cells at Harare Central Police Station in April for a peaceful protest to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) over poor service and unfair billing practices.

ZLHR will also apply to the Supreme Court, for a declaratur declaring the conditions at Harare Central Police Station Holding Cells, cruel, inhuman and degrading, and thus a violation of section 15 of the Constitution.

To read a full copy of the notice of intention to sue, please click here: Notice-of-Intention-to-Sue 25.08.10

More information about WOZA’s electricity campaign can be read in the electricity category folder to the right

Victory in Tredgold Magistrates Court and a yellow card for ZETDC

yellow-card-zesa-2011

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) today launch their ‘Power to Poor People’ Campaign against the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC). The campaign will feature the signing of a petition dubbed the ‘Anti Abuse of Power’ Petition; completing of a time sheet of power cuts and the delivering of a ‘yellow card’ to the company.   WOZA has campaigned for affordable and available electricity since 2006 with its ‘power to the people’ campaigns. The campaign is designed to put pressure on the company to stop disconnections until they are able to deliver a better service to their customers.

Last year members completed power cut times sheet in May and September. And in the next 2 weeks will once again complete a record whilst going door to door to obtaining signatures for the ‘anti abuse of power’ petition. Once the petition signing is complete the petitions will be taken to the Anti corruption and Monopolies Committee of Parliament to lobby mainly for a prepaid system of electricity. may-2011-petition1

Our demands are:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Stop cheating fixed meter consumers, we demand prepaid meters.
2. Please provide cheaper firewood, candles and matches, we do not want to destroy our environment by cutting down trees.
3. We are tired of 18 hour power cuts -provide proper timetables of load shedding.
4. Urgently put in place a proper and transparent billing system. Stop sending metered consumers estimates, send ACTUAL bills.                                                                                                                                                                     5. Create a smoother process of customer’s claims for compensation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6. Review recruitment policy and bring salaries to decent levels with our current economic record. Professionalise staff performance and honesty. No more luxury cars we need transformers.
7. We will record the exact hours we receive electricity for the last 2 weeks of May while we get petition signatures which we will take to Parliament and demand they review your monopoly and poor service. You have cheated us for long enough, after we submit our demand to parliament we will organise a RED card Campaign. Be warned POWER TO THE POOR – ZERO service ZERO bill. HOKOYO!!

Last year, the response of the company was to have their security arrest WOZA leaders who spent 6 days in custody, 3 of those days the Independence Holiday. For last year’s Harare protest go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8hEur0ceQ0. Also watch rough footage of the Valentines’ Day protest  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2-PrFvmwQs

At 11am yesterday 200 Chitungwiza members marched to their City Council officers to demand water, they have had not water for over 2 to 3 weeks.

Ten members arrested in three batches from 28 February to 7 March who were tortured in custody had charges withdrawn by the state at 8:30 am this morning when they appeared at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court. The state decided to respect a Supreme Court ruling obtained by Williams and Mahlangu. The ruling granted that the two women had been wrongfully arrested and detained and, as a result, had their rights and fundamental freedoms violated. The full bench of the Supreme Court also found that the state had failed to protect the activists from this abuse.  The two had spent 3 weeks in Mlondolozi Prison after a peaceful protest. 10th May 2011 For more information email info@wozazimbabwe.org. Visit our website at www.wozazimbabwe.org. You can also follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/wozazimbabwe or find us on Facebook. power-cut-time-sheet May 2011

Woza Moya March 2007

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9

In February 2007 WOZA turned FIVE and commemorated with five protests to launch the People’s Charter. Courageous Human Rights Defenders in Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare took to the streets. We congratulate Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare for their first protest and welcome them to the human rights defenders honour roll!

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recognised their work and awarded an International Women of Courage award to founder, Jenni Williams. The award reads ‘for her work to effect lasting social change and democratic reform in Zimbabwe by giving a voice to women through Women of Zimbabwe Arise.’ This award encourages us to work harder for a free and socially just Zimbabwe!

As WOZA turns five we are saddened to compare the Zimbabwe of five years ago to the Zimbabwe of today and we find that the levels of violence that led us to form a non-violent movement are back with a vengeance. When we formed WOZA in 2003, politicians were beating each other up, police were beating up activists and people were afraid for their lives. It seems to be a cycle of violence that dates back hundreds of years and we can quote Joshua Nkomo from 1983 saying, “Today, the people of Zimbabwe live in fear, not of enemies but of their own government.”

As we look back upon our footsteps as an organisation, we must rededicate ourselves to non-violent action and to building a spirit of love so that we can finally find the dignity, justice and peace our hearts beat for. We must also move within our communities preaching about non-violence as an effective way to bring social justice and equality for all. There is no weapon stronger that that of love and non-violent direct action by a people determined to be free. True freedom cannot be won through bloodshed. Even Mugabe himself recognises the power of non-violent resistance. When he heard about the work of Gandhi in India, he said, “This gave me personally a new kind of vision, a new philosophy, that if Africans were united in the same way as the Indians were, even if they resorted to an non-violent struggle they should eventually emerge victorious.” Zimbabwe came about through bloodshed – let us give non-violent protest a chance.

We recognise the deep frustration of our youth whose lives have been stolen by a regime that calls them ‘born frees’ and then trains them to be violent in militia camps. We need to be able to see a clear difference between violent politicians and non-violent human rights defenders and ask those committed to a new Zimbabwe to make clear statements as to where they stand. To the youth we remind them that when they choose to love, they choose lasting liberation. When they choose non-violent direct action, they choose to be brave – as violence is the weapon of the weak.

Zimbabweans spoke out clearly in the People’s Charter about the Zimbabwe they want. We would like to remind politicians that lives have been lost; their families live in expectation that they sacrificed for a better future for their children. We are watching to see how politicians consult us as they travel back and forth to South Africa to cut deals. We remind them that we expect transparent and honest consultation with the people and we will not accept ‘political deals’ that are irrelevant to people and their basic needs. Indira Gandhi once said, “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” What is hidden in the fists and what is the open palm covering up?

To use the words of Cesar Chavez – a workers rights activist from the United States – “We are convinced that non-violence is more powerful than violence … If you use violence, you have to sell part of yourself for that violence. Then you are no longer a master of your own struggle.” When a politician tries to cut a deal without input from the people he is selling his soul and our hopes for a better future. OUR SOULS AND THE HOPE FOR A BETTER TOMORROW ARE NOT FOR SALE! We are suffering day in and day out but have the patience to wait for a free and fair election under our own people-driven constitution to elect leaders with the people and their desires at heart. Stability and peace does not come from the barrel of a gun.

We close with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have the compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight; we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.”

Nonviolent action Guidelines
1. We will not harm anyone, and we will not retaliate in reaction to violence.
2. We will be honest and will treat every person with respect, especially law officers.
3. We will express our feelings but will not harbor hatred.
4. We will be alert to people around us and will provide needed assistance.
5. As peacekeepers we will protect others from insults and violence.
6. During a demonstration we will not run nor make threatening motions.
7. If we see a demonstrator threatening anyone, we will intervene to calm down the situation. If demonstrators become violent, and we cannot stop it, we will withdraw.
8. We will not steal, and we will not damage property.
9. We will not carry any weapons.
10. We will not bring or use any alcohol or drugs, other than for medical purposes.
11. We will keep the agreements we make with other demonstrators. If there is a serious disagreement, we may withdraw.
12. We will accept responsibility for our nonviolent actions. We will not lie to escape the consequences of our actions.

If you agree to the non-violent discipline guidelines and would like to join WOZA send your application letter to P.O. Box FM 701, Famona, Bulawayo. Tell us who you are and why you want to join WOZA. Write in any local language. Send us a self-addressed with postage stamp for us to send your Sisterhood Promise. Once you have signed this and posted it to us we will send you your membership card in the second self-addressed and postage paid envelope.

Mutare joins in the demand for POWER to the people

Approximately 200 members took to the streets of Mutare this morning as part of a nation-wide demand for power to the people by 2008.

The peaceful protesters marched for four blocks through the eastern city to Megawatt House, the local headquarters of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), where they delivered protest notes (see below) and their demand for better electricity supply and an end to corruption. The group sang and toyi-toyied for several minutes within the ZESA offices before dispersing. Police were seen to react fifteen minutes after the group had left Megawatt House.

The Mutare demonstration follows WOZA sit-ins at ZESA offices in Bulawayo, Harare and Masvingo. After the protests, activists in both Bulawayo and Harare were arrested and tortured in police custody, exposing the brutality of a regime that attacks its citizens for demanding an electricity service that matches the high tariffs people are forced to pay.

Whilst there have been no reports of arrests so far, it is anticipated that some members may be followed to their homes and picked up later in the day, as this is what occurred after the sit-ins in Masvingo. Two members were arrested in Masvingo having been followed to their homes, although they were later released.

In a separate matter, the 20 members arrested in Masvingo at the beginning of March during the launch of the People’s Charter in the provincial capital, are to appear on trial tomorrow, 5th July, on charges under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

WOZA once again pays tribute to the people of Mutare for taking to the street with their demands, despite ongoing state brutality and the recent cold weather, which would have made time in police cells extremely difficult. WOZA encourages other Zimbabweans to join in the demand for power to the people by 2008 – together we can achieve the brighter future we deserve.

WOZA recognised in Boston USA

MEDIA STORY & LIVE EVENT NOTICE: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013 – Four Leading Activists from Around the World to Receive Awards for Nonviolent Victories                                                                                                                    Wednesday, June 19, 12:30-2:00pm EST

Boston, Massachusetts – On June 19 four leading activists from around the world will receive The James Lawson Award for their success in civil resistance on behalf of environmental protection, indigenous people, political rights, and the end of racial oppression, at an awards ceremony in Boston. James Lawson was the prime strategist behind the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s, and will personally give the awards to:

+ Evgenia Chirikova, the young Russian woman who co-founded Defend Khimki Forest, which has fought a long and so far successful campaign in the last ten years to prevent the destruction of an ancient-growth forest near Moscow.

+ Mkhuseli (“Khusta”) Jack, the South African leader of a consumer boycott campaign and a relentless organizer during the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in the 1980s.

+ Oscar Olivera, one of the key leaders of the campaign in Cochabamba, Bolivia in the 1990’s that prevented the privatization of water resources and helped spark broad popular participation in Bolivia’s democratic transition in the ensuing years.

+ Jenni Williams, the co-founder of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, who braved 52 arrests and jailings due to ongoing protests for genuine political rights for all of the people of her country.

The Lawson Awards will be presented at the 8th annual Fletcher Summer Institute on the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict at Tufts University, before an audience of activists, scholars, and international professionals participating in the week-long institute. The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict conducts the Institute with the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy. “Today the map of nonviolent resistance is truly global, and Evgenia, Khusta, Oscar and Jenni represent the diversity of struggles, the refusal to quit, and the personal courage of nonviolent organizers and activists all over the world,” said Hardy Merriman, the vice president of the Center.

The awards event was conducted at Tufts University campus in Boston Massachusetts in the United States. see the youtube link

6 members and baby taken from homes in Bulawayo into bush for questioning

AT FOUR AM yesterday, Law and Order police officers went door-to-door in Bulawayo arresting members of WOZA. Six women and a one-year-old-baby were taken. Other members refused to open their doors in the dark.

At 4:45 am they arrived at the gate of Magodonga Mahlangu, broke her gate padlock and proceeded to try to break down the front and back doors. They did not succeed in arresting Mahlangu however.

The six women and the were finally released late afternoon yesterday. Lawyers had failed to locate the members at any police station in suburban Bulawayo and so it was assumed that this was not a simple arrest. The members are unharmed but traumatised and in shock.

They were each taken from their homes in three different cars bearing GP (Gauteng Province, South Africa) number plates. They were taken to the bush around Khami Ruins, some 40 km outside Bulawayo and told this was the last time they would be seen alive.

It transpires there were three teams of police officers. Officers Mthunzi, Musarira, MaNdlovu and Tshuma, all Law and Order officers from Bulawayo Central Police Station, were identified by members. Three of the women testified that they were taken onto the mountaintop over looking the river shown rocks and ropes and told to tell the truth or be thrown in.

The ‘truth’ required was the where about of Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. They were questioned about WOZA programmes and especially the 2006 and 2007 Sheroes Congresses. (see below for news of WOZA’s latest congress)

Rosemary Siziba was taken with her one-year-old baby, as she had no one to leave her with. Maria Moyo taken from her sick bed and has now taken a turn for the worst due to her experience. Two elderly grandmothers and two as yet unidentified members from a different suburb, were also taken but have not yet been interviewed.

The women were made to move from team to team that had set up their ‘office’ on this mountaintop and be interrogated by different officers, all the time being threatened.

Apparently some tourists happened to walk by and the officers became nervous that they were journalists. They were heard saying that they could end up on the front page of a newspaper so they decided to return the women unharmed.

One member said she was present in the police vehicle at the home of Magodonga Mahlangu and heard police break the padlock and try to kick the doors in. The dog, Snowy, who was barking was then hit with a hoe and it is unclear what happened to the dog, which is still missing.

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu wish to pay tribute to the courage of members and their resilience in the face of such evil. Words will never capture the fear experienced by our members and describe what they went through suffice it to say this incident along with the names of the perpetrators will be filed and one-day justice will be served! We remember the theme of this year’s congress – ‘beaten, jailed but still determined to be free’.

We would also want a response from the South African Government as to how these police officers can use Gauteng number plates to perpetrate such evil deeds?

Members in Masvingo are finally all accounted for after last night’s house seaches – they had seen police vehicles and made themselves scarce for the day so as not to help the police commit harrasment.