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Six WOZA women arrested for wanting power for the poor

SIX members, all women, were arrested along Khami Road in Bulawayo and detained at Western Commonage police station between 8 and 9pm Wednesday.  The women are from Iminyela and Pelandaba suburbs. The members were arrested by police officers who accused them of painting messages on the road. The messages read- ‘power to poor people’ ; ‘no lengthy load shedding’ ; ‘prepaid meters now!’; focus on the electricity crisis in Zimbabwe.

WOZA fear torture of members, 14 members were tortured while in custody in March 2011. This morning, food brought by relatives and lawyers access was denied by Assistant Inspector Purazeni, the officer-in-charge at Western Commonage police station whose officers arrested the six, he is said to have indicated that the orders came from above.

WOZA, a women’s movement identify electricity supply as directly targeting the role of a woman in the home. As a result WOZA have lobbied the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) for close on 5 years to provide an affordable and regular service. A multi faceted protest strategy is used peacefully targeting local and city based company officials.

These arrests follow  a 10th May protest to the Bulawayo electricity power station to launched a 6 week ‘Power to Poor People’ Campaign to ‘discipline’ the ZETDC for its daylight robbery to consumers. Members are also continuing to engage suburban office of the power company with consumer deputations to deliver ‘yellow cards’ with their demands.

The campaign 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 consumer’s 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!!

The campaign includes obtaining signatures to 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. In response to a campaign demand the company have just advertise power cut schedules but have indicated that there will be longer cuts as this is winter in Zimbabwe.

Please help save our activists from torture by calling +263 9 403996 up to 8 speak to Assistant Inspector Purazeni,  the officer-in-charge at Western Commonage police station or call the Law and Order Dept on +263 9 72515. Please remind them to conform to international standards of detention and ask them to allow WOZA members to lobby for and power for all to enjoy.

Note: A ‘Deputation’ or Delegation is one of the forms of nonviolent direct action from the 198 methods authored by scholar Gene Sharp. Members met and select a smaller group to ‘represent’ them in delivering their demands to an official of an organisation viewed as violating people rights.

Victory for eight Pumula members and Trial starts for another six

Eight members Grace Moyo, Stella Chivunge, Sikhangezile Sibanda, and Simangaliphi Msimanga, 16yr old Cecelia Ncube, Siboniso Siziba, Miriam Moyo, and Memory Matandare arrested on 24 May 2011 appeared in Western Commonage Magistrate Court on the 15th of August 2011. The Magistrate Themba Chimiso ruled that the state must withdraw the charges before plea. This followed an application by the defence team from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights challenging the charges.

The accused were charged with two counts: 1. Intentional engaging in a disorderly or riotous conduct as defined in section 41(a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act 9:23. Alternatively Encumbering or obstructing the free passage along any street, road, throughfare, sidewalk or pavements as defined in section 46(2)(f) of the Criminal law codification and Reform act.

Lawyers Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa cited a Supreme Court ruling obtained by WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 protest related arrest. Lawyers argued that the charges were similar to the section 37 (1) a (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the subject of the Supreme Court ruling. As a result of this ruling, it followed that WOZA members should not be arrested under similar conditions as they infringe on their constitutional right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, section 20(1) and 21(1) of the Constitution. This argument rendered the Prosecutor D. Ndebele dumb and he had no option but to withdraw the charges before plea and record this in the docket. The members, including a 3 month old baby Rejoice had spent a night in custody. They were arrested during a peaceful protest in the Pumula suburb of Bulawayo at their local Electricity supply office demanding a decent electricity service. WOZA members were conducting a ‘power to poor people’ campaign targeting the Zimbabwe Electricity company which has a monopoly and overcharges its service.

Six members accused of writing messages about the poor electricity service appeared in Tredgold Magistrates Court, Bulawayo on 18th of August 2011. The six members, Janet Dube and 5 others were in the dock for most of the morning facing Trial. The Trial is being heard by Magistrate Roselyn Dube and the state prosecutor is Jeremiah Mutsindikwa. They are defended by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa. They are charged with contravening section 140 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23, malicious damage to property. The property being the tar road connecting the Pelandaba to the City centre. Malicious damage to property reads: Any person who, knowing that another person is entitled to own, possess or control any property or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that another person may be so entitled, damages or destroys the property. (a) intending to cause such damage or destruction; or (b) realising that there is a real risk or possibility that such damage or destruction may result from his or her act or omission; shall be guilty of malicious damage to property, and liable to. (i) a fine not exceeding level fourteen or not exceeding twice the value of the property damaged as a result of the crime, whichever is the greater; or (ii) imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty-five years; Two police officers who arrested the accused gave evidence. Shepherd Sipili and Lawrence Chademana’s evidence seemed to contradict their own written statements. They admitted arresting Sibekezele and Therezia, saying the other accused could have been arrested by other officers who were not in court. The trial will continue on the 1st of September where the Engineer Lengama Douglas Ncube from City Council must explain how he calculated the USD 349 damage apparently caused by the women’s graffiti. The six women were arrested on Wednesday 18 May 2011 by armed police officers. During their detention they were denied access to food and lawyers, split up and help in inhumane conditions in suburban police stations and held for longer that the 48 hours allowed by law. WOZA would like to thank Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights for delivering a legal victory for the Pumula members and look forward to another victory for the six accused of writing ‘power to poor people’.

Pressure on Parliament from WOZA 16 Days protest

FIVE hundred members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched in two separate processions to Parliament at noon on 27th November 2012. This protest is the launch of the WOZA 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence under the international theme: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women! But WOZA will use a shortened version – PEACE NOW!

The protest groups merged 5 meters from Parliament entrance and closed the distance between them and a squad of Riot police manning the entrance door into Parliament. As the activists arrived, Police immediately tried to send them away from the door but the determined human rights defenders began their protest program. The program included the singing of a Shona language song and kneeling in prayer.

WOZA National coordinator Jenni Williams then went to the entrance to deliver the Woza Moya Newsletter containing the 16 Days demands. Two ‘shivering with fear’ parliamentary officers managed to take the document before being shoved out of the way by glaring intelligence officers. The intelligence officers attempted to ensure Williams only spoke with them. As this engagement happened Williams was roughly pulled by the arm from the back by a suited man who seemed to be a parliamentarian intent on violence, he pulled Williams out the way to get into the chamber.

Seven members then made short speeches outlining the demands.  A male member chanting a WOZA slogan ‘you strike a woman and you strike a rock’ to the amusement of male bystanders, spoke of the need to remove the Zanu PF militia who are now manning boreholes and politicizing the distribution of water.

The protest programme was then closed with more slogans. Journalists who were in attendance then began to ask questions of Williams and other participants and a mini press conference ensured. Impatient Riot Police took exception to this and became loud in their attempts to disperse Williams and the journalists.
Many members of parliament were seen looking through the windows and smiling their encouragement. WOZA pray that they took time to read the list of demands contained in the Woza Moya newsletter.

No members were beaten or arrested during the protest and apart from over zealousness on the part of some junior officers who threatened to beat members at the back of the protest, police behaved with restraint.

WOZA members demand a strong Declaration of Rights a.    Equality – right to equality on basis of gender – women to have equal access to jobs and employment, equal pay, to acquire land and inherit property. b.    Right to education – free but quality primary and affordable secondary education and access to vocational education. As a way to correct the injustice of the past 10 years of prioritising defence over education we demand this right be fully justiciable. c.    Right to protest and assemble freely (section 4:16) and the police to respect this right and to protest without clearance. d.    The Right to personal liberty and right to be informed of the reason for arrest.  We want the right to free and safe streets and personal security. e.    Affordable and quality health care. f.    Clean water, sanitation, clean environment. g.    There should be a better provision for children’s rights and expansion in the bill of rights including social economic political and cultural rights. For example the right to earn a living (protection of informal sector). h.    Labour rights – the right to strike, safety, non-discrimination in employment on ethnic basis

WOZA members general DEMANDS
1.    A Ministry of Women’s Affairs to promote affirmative action
2.    There must be separation of powers and members feel that devolution will help promote total people participation in how they want to be governed.
3.    Members said the executive must not interfere with the judiciary and must let the judiciary be independent and for justice to prevail in the country.
4.    Members said they want the rule of law to be protected and promoted in the new constitution.
5.    Members want to see a change in the police force behaviour and in the way they do their job. They believe that the presidential appointment method is the root cause for politicisation of the security sector.
6.    Members want equal representation of women in all elected institutions and commissions.
7.    Strong Human Rights Commission that will fully recognise and protect all human rights ensuring that all cases of human rights are dealt with.
8.    National Peace commission for transitional justice which will provide for restitution from perpetrators for Gukurahundi crimes and those victims will be compensated.
9.    Culture Commission to promote traditional culture that respects human rights
10.    Development Commission to identify disadvantaged and provide affirmative action
11.    Independent Land Commission for distribution of land ensuring that women benefit the most as they are serious farmers.
12.    A strong Provincial and Local Government. Members want a devolved system of government and that can effectively administer devolution for development within its region and ensure natural resources develop their immediate community. Members said they want devolution of powers ‘high and low’ but are prepared to accept a start toward this system and develop it by amendments to the constitution. They do not accept Zanu PF’s version – decentralisation as it has already been in place and has not resulted in shared and devolved decision making.

a.    Members said they want policy change. They want to elect their provincial governors as a principle of democracy.   b.    Members want a Local authority that has the power to control natural resources and make all development decisions.  c.    Fair distribution of revenues between centre and provinces.

WOZA logo theft attempt to swing election

MEMBERS of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) enroute to vote at 6am on 31st July 2013 were surprised to see strange A4 flyers with WOZA logos thrown all around the Mpopoma suburb in Bulawayo. Members then called the WOZA leadership to notify them of the logo theft.

WOZA national Coordinator then contacted the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party secretary general who confirmed that the flyer had not been authored by her party. The MDC Tsvangirai party was also then notified through party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa that the flyer had not been authored by WOZA.

The timing of the distribution of this flyer was obviously an attempt to swing voters by once again hiding behind our WOZA skirts instead of winning the election by a good manifesto and honest campaigning.

Unfortunately, members of the MDC T party reacted to the flyer and several of our members were visited and threatened. Our members were told by these members whose names are withheld , “We will sort you out when we take over next week.” WOZA call on the MDC Tsvangirai leadership to ask the Mpopoma/ Pelandaba ward leadership to instruct members to ignore this obvious attempt by this hidden hand to cause unnecessary violence.

This is the second time the WOZA logo has been stolen and published with hate speech and discriminatory content which is obviously divisive and designed to promote violence. (see the link to the first flyer http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1421)

see the flyer here woza

16 members still in custody in Masvingo – have been beaten

The 16 members, seven women and nine men, arrested in Masvingo on Tuesday for playing netball and football remain in custody at Masvingo Central Police Station. They still have not been charged. There is deep concern for their well being as members taking food to them last night reported that police had beaten them, one by one, yesterday afternoon. The extent of their injuries is not clear.

Police are apparently still trying to force them to pay admission of guilt fines although they have committed no crime and have not been charged with anything.

Lawyers are now considering filing an urgent high court application for their immediate release as police are apparently refusing to take them to court today and the 48-hours that they are allowed to be held will soon be up.

The group has now spent two nights in custody. Also in custody is the soccer ball, although the netball evaded arrest.

It is still not clear why they were arrested in the first place although it is obvious that it is part of the ongoing campaign of police harassment of human rights defenders in the country.

It is bitterly cold in Masvingo at present and as the group was playing sports at the time, many are not wearing warm clothing. Police have not allowed extra clothing to be brought in to those in custody.

The group had been engaged in their game at Macheke Stadium yesterday afternoon when two members of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) approached them and questioned one of the members. They then took him away. Shortly afterwards they came back and arrested the rest of the group.

Whilst over 300 members demonstrated in Mutare on Monday without incident (see story below), there have been no recent protests in Masvingo.

Please continue to ring Masvingo Central Police Station on +263 39 62221 to protest the continued detention of the group and that police stop the harassment and beatings of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.

Woza Moya – English – April 2008

Against brute force and injustice the people will have the last word – that of victory. Che Guevara, South American revolutionary

STAND UP FOR YOUR CHILD

The election has come and gone and WOZA would like to pay tribute to Zimbabweans for the peaceful way they went out to vote and for the patience they have shown while waiting for ZEC to get their act together. A week has passed without the results and ZEC are taking our patience for granted. Some of us went to vote as a protest knowing that there was a high chance of the result being rigged or stolen. Politicians are trading insults and threats whilst Zimbabwe burns. When you read this, please think about your child and the dreams you had of a better life for them. Think about what your children are doing. Are they in school studying hard and doing well or sleeping on their desks without teachers? Are they queuing for water or looking for firewood? Or are they far away in a foreign land? Is this the future you imagined for them? As long as the results are held hostage we cannot get a new government and demand the social justice we need and deserve. For how much longer can we wait for the results when we have seen them outside polling stations and know that we voted for a change? Last week, people used the polls to speak out – but our voices are being ignored. Today is the day to take peaceful action to remind ZEC and politicians that WE, the voters, are the owners of the election and WE will not allow them to ignore us. We made our decision with our X and it must be respected.

Today is the day to end the silence.


YOUR CHILD EXPECTS YOU TO DO SOMETHING RESPONSIBLE AND PEACFUL TO DEFEND YOUR VOTE AND LIBERATE THE TRUE RESULTS.


Today is also the day that we continue our struggle for social justice.

Our vote last week was just another way in which we reminded our leaders that we want and deserve social justice which can be defined as a system where people have equal opportunities/access to social, economic, cultural, religious and political needs regardless of race, gender, creed or any other form of discrimination.

This is what we were thinking of when we went to choose our new leaders. We want leaders who prioritise the following:
· Full enjoyment of all social, political, economic and cultural rights
· An equal society including gender equality with full respect for all human rights including women’s and children’s rights
· Freedoms including speech, assembly and association
· Respect and tolerance of diversity – culture and religion
· Transparency and accountability
· Equal participation in political and economic decision-making
· Equal application of the law – access to justice and understanding of the law
· Correction of past injustices such as Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina
· Gutsaruzhinji/inhlalakahle yabantu (good living), including adequate and affordable food
· Access to affordable education
· Access to affordable housing, electricity, sanitation and clean water
· Access to affordable healthcare and medication including anti-retrovirals (ARVs)
· Equal and fair access to fertile land, inputs, equipment and secure ownership
· Equal opportunities to resources, employment, self-help projects and the right to earn a living wage
· Development of adequate infrastructure and access to affordable transport
· Environmentally sustainable usage of resources

As Zimbabweans we deserve the social justice that we talk about but we can only get it if we are prepared to stand up and demand it from our leaders. Make a start today.

 

Now is the time to keep standing strong for your child’s future.

 

WOZA demands the immediate forming of a new government in a street demonstration in Bulawayo

OVER 600 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) took to the streets of Bulawayo this afternoon, marching straight to Mhlahlandlela Government Complex to demand the immediate forming of a new government as outlined in the 15 September power-sharing deal. Despite this complex being directly opposite the Zimbabwe Republic Police Drill Hall, no members appear to have been arrested at the time of this release.

On several occasions, police officers walked by the protest looking the other way. Workers at the three government complexes along the route met the peaceful procession with big smiles. They demanded copies of the September 2008 Woza Moya newsletter covering our position as regards the power-sharing agreement. At Mhlahlandlela, the security guard received the newsletter and some placards with a broad smile and handed them in to the receptionist.

WOZA marches through the streets of Bulawayo to demand the immediate forming of a new governmentThe protest began at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) where participants delivered a protest note, complaining about poor electricity supply and high tariffs. Bystanders shouted out – ‘Well done, good job – good job!’ The procession then proceeded several blocks to the government complex where it ended.

The theme of the protest was ‘actions speak louder than words’. Despite it being 15 days since the deal was signed, no progress has been made in forming a new government although it was to have been implemented immediately. Food prices are soaring, electricity and water cuts are increasing but no one seems interested or able to deal decisively with these issues and the ordinary citizens continues to carry the ever-increasing burden. WOZA members, along with the rest of the nation, are starving but unable to access food aid despite recognition in the deal that the situation is urgent.

WOZA is therefore demanding immediate action regarding the formation of a new government that will begin to work on solving urgent social issues, like food, electricity and water. We also requested that the mothers of the nation arise and demand a liveable peace.

During the protest, WOZA members chanted in Ndebele – ‘ayihlale phansi ihambe umthetho’ (sit down and maintain discipline). This was sang both as a way to ensure that the activists maintained non-violent discipline and also as a message to politicians to sit down and respect the deal. Other songs sang include a WOZA favourite – ‘this is an issue that men are failing to solve’.

WOZA members express their opinions on their placardsSome of the placards written by members read – ‘we can’t eat empty promises’; ‘once bitten twice shy’; ‘we are hungry’ and ‘three principals, the talk show is over’.

The protest was also a test to see if freedoms of expression and assembly have opened up and WOZA commend the police for looking the other way. In our view police did not act to arrest anyone because they are fed up and personally support the protest issue.

To read a copy of the newsletter carried by the protestors and which outlines WOZA’s position on the power-sharing agreement signed by the political parties, see below (September 2008 Woza Moya English Edition).

Charge Sheet, State Outline and Witness Statement against Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu 17.10.08

Bulawayo Province CHARGE SHEET – Bulawayo Central 311/10/08
1. JENNIFER WILLIAMS 46 YEARS
2. MAGODONGA MAHLANGU 36 YEARS

C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23
“Acting together with one or more other persons with him/her in any place realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security or order of the public”

In that on the 16th day of October, 2008, the accused persons MAGODONGA MAHLANGU and JENNIFER WILLIAMS one or more of them unlawfully and acting together with one or more other persons with them gathered at Mhlanhlandlela government complex singing, chanting slogans and carrying placards realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security and order of the public.

STATE OUTLINE
Bulawayo Central 311/10/08
C/S 37 (I) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codifaction and Reform Act Chapter 9:23

16/10/06 – 1115HRS – MHLANHLANDLELA COMPLEX, BYO
JENNIFER WILLIAMS 46 years and MAGODONGA MAHLANGU 36 years

THE STATE
The accused persons in this matter is Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu who belong to a certain organization called “Women of Zimbabwe Arise” (WOZA).

The complainant in this matter is the state.
On the 16th day of October, 2008 and at around 1115hrs, the two aforesaid accused persons led a group of about 300 women and proceeded to Mhlanhlandlela complex singing, chanting slogans and carrying placards with various messages. Some of the placards were written ‘ideal lenu selibulele ilizwe, umangoye uselala eziko; sifuna amatisha esikolo”. (Translation: Your deal has destroyed the country/ the cat is using the stove as its bed (implying there is no cooking)/ We want teachers in the school)

When this group arrived at Mhlanhlandlela, they were addressed by Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. The group was then ordered to disperse by police but the two above accused persons refused to comply to the orders leading to their arrest.

The accused persons had no right whatsoever to act in the manner they did.

WITNESS STATEMENT

BULAWAYO CENTRAL IR: 11129/08
STATEMENT

SIBANDA F. 064876R
RES: ZRP ROSS CAMP
WITNESS QUARTERS
BULAWAYO

1. I am a male adult aged 23 years serving in the Zimbabwe Republic Police stationed at Nkulumane Police station but currently attached to Bulawayo Provincial Reaction Group.
2. On the 16th October 2008 at about 1130hrs, I was at PRG base together with my collegues when I was summoned by OIC Byo Central to proceed at Mhlanhlandlela Complex where an unlawful demonstration was taking place.
3. On arrival I found a group of about 300 women some sitting down and some standing holding placards being addressed by Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu.
4. The gathering was ordered to disperse by OIC Central and some complied but Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu refused to disperse and they were arrested.
5. The placards had different messages written in Ndebele some had the following message:
a. Ideal lenu seli

WOZA deliver petition to Minister of Education – 5 arrested, many beaten

Update – 6pm

Five members, four women and one man, will spend the night in Harare Central Police Station tonight following their arrest this morning whilst trying to hand in a petition to the Minister of Education. Lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have not been allowed access to their clients so the details of what they will be charged with are not known. Food has been allowed in to the group this evening.

Nine members have had to receive treatment for the vicious beatings they received from riot police. All have been discharged however. Most injuries were deep tissue bruising from being beaten with baton sticks – deep welts can be seen on most of those that received treatment. One woman has a fractured toe from where she was stamped on by a booted police officer. The woman for whom the ambulance was called has a serious injury to her knee. She had been trying to protect her seven-month old baby from being beaten and was begging police not to hurt her or her baby. This obviously angered the police who then proceeded to single her out for a more severe beating. She is unable to walk and had to be carried home. Many others received beatings but as police were circling the Ministry continuously, they obviously were not able to make contact with the support team to receive treatment.

In the meantime the trial of WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu on charges of disturbing the peace is set to resume tomorrow in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court.

******

Hundreds of members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) delivered a petition to the new Minister of Education, Senator David Coltart today in Harare. Whilst leaders tried to deliver the petition to the minister, with whom they had an official appointment, riot police indiscriminately beat the peaceful group that were waiting for the minister to come and address them. At least 10 members have been arrested. The full extent of the injuries sustained are not clear but at least one woman is unable to walk and an ambulance has been called for her.

The group of 450 members handing in the petition converged on the Ministry of Education from three different directions. The first group to arrive was immediately set upon by the riot police detail that is based at Parliament. Whilst they were being beaten however, the women appealed to the police reminding them that their children are not going to school either. The police stopped the beatings and the protestors re-grouped outside the Ministry to wait. A police vehicle full of riot police arrived shortly afterwards however and again started to beat the group. They were joined by a second vehicle, again full of riot police who were banging their shields and singing, “today we are going to beat you” as they descended on the group and viciously began to beat them. They later changed their song to “why are your husbands’ allowing you to demonstrate?”.

As they were driven off towards Harare Central Police Station, the women under arrest were heard to be singing “we want education for our children.” More details of their arrest will be given once lawyers had been able to attend to them.

The Minister, who had been delayed by an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister, finally arrived to accept the petition of approximately 25,000 signatures. He expressed regret and sorrow that the group who had had an official appointment with him should be beaten and arrested and said that these kinds of incidents were exactly what the MDC was trying to change by joining government. He also stated that he had heard the pleas of Zimbabwean parents and would do everything in his power to ensure that every child goes to school.

The petition and the protest are part of WOZA’s Take the Step campaign, designed to encourage Zimbabweans to continue with the civic participation that they demonstrated in March 2008. The signatures on the petition were collected by WOZA members in a door-to-door campaign in recent weeks. The petition text reads as follows: ‘Please put our children’s education first. I am a parent whose child did not learn well in 2008. There were no teachers, no textbooks, and I cannot pay the new forex fees. Please declare the education system a national disaster and allow all children to repeat 2008 at no cost. Those that do not want to repeat will need help so that the children do not suffer. Please campaign to lure teachers home with dignified salaries, adequate supplies, furniture and equipment in schools.’

More information will be made available as it is received.