Category Archives: Valentine’s Day

WOZA turns 10 – Shosholoza for Love!

WOZA was formed in 2002 by two Bulawayo women – the late Sheba Dube and Jennifer Williams. WOZA are commemorating 10 years of work – defending women and defending the rights of all Zimbabweans.  Our mandate is to:
o    To mobilise Zimbabweans, and in particular women, to demand social justice on a non-partisan basis, and to participate in all civic processes.
o    Carry out civic education programmes to fill the gap in knowledge on rights and democratic practice.
o    Facilitate community discussion forums to help women’s voices to be heard by key decision makers.
o    Promote the role of women in policy making at the local level.
o    Conduct  non violent direct action campaigns that  influence public opinion and pressure for leaders to be accountable and deliver all aspects of social justice
o              To pressurise for a democratic  constitution that meets the peoples wishes

The first 10 years has been a hard decade for us. We pay tribute to the members who helped us to reach our 10th birthday and salute their bravery.  As WOZA members march this Valentine’s Day we pledge that we will strengthen our campaigns. We will increase our defense of human rights and will work with Zimbabweans to build democracy and demand development. But our first objective of 2012 is to demand a new Constitution that reflects the views and the will of citizens!

Our members send this message to Zimbabweans:
I Love what I do
I Do Democracy
I Do Development
I Defend Human Rights
I Do it in the name of love
I Do it for the love of Zimbabwe
WOZA let’s Do it together
Woza Zimbabwe Woza
Lets Shosholoza for love!

The environment under which we work is not friendly to human rights defenders:
a) Our members continue to be arrested, tortured and persecuted by police officers. Two leaders are even facing fabricated criminal charges of kidnapping and Theft. Instead of the police keeping the peace they are the ones who disturb our peace!
b) Zimbabwe’s political principals are still playing around with outstanding issues and the positions they have agreed to as regards the constitution and elections roadmap are not being implemented.
c) The Principals have denounced violence but instead we see the increased deployment of army and militia and police continue to arrest people arbitrarily.
d)  Spokesperson of the South African Mediator President Jacob Zuma, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, says all the right words but nothing is implemented in Zimbabwe. She said, “the role of the Facilitation Team in Zimbabwe is ‘to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe – who deserve better – go for genuinely free elections to elect the leaders they want without any fear of violence.” SADC keep talking about the need to stop violence and promote peace but are not doing anything on the ground to implement peace.
e) The economy is beginning to crash because there are no meaningful economic reforms. Jobs are scarce but police and Zimra loot from informal traders trying to survive. Political heavyweights and the army divert the profits from diamonds to their own personal and political gain.

Our Valentine’s Day demands to the principals in the Inclusive Government:
1. We urgently need a new, democratic constitution accompanied by critical electoral reforms such as an updated and accurate voters’ roll, guarantees for media freedoms, equal access by all political parties to state-controlled media during elections and promotion of gender equality. Urgent legislative reforms should include repealing or amending all legislation that hinders free political activity.
2. All soldiers currently deployed across the country must be returned and confined to their barracks and all service chiefs must issue a public statement committing themselves to restricting their activities to their constitutional mandate and to totally separate themselves from politics and from interference in political and electoral affairs.
3. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its Secretariat Staff, charged with elections management, must be completely demilitarized, independent, professional, adequately resourced with direct technical support from SADC and the AU to enable it to impartially discharge its mandate.
4. Before Zimbabwe can set a date for elections, the AU and SADC must independently examine and certify that the environment is conducive to holding non-violent, free and fair elections. The elections must be robustly monitored and observed by local, regional and international groups who should have unfettered access to all parts of the country.
5. Together with SADC and the UN, the AU should deploy peace-keeping monitors to Zimbabwe at least three months ahead of elections to prevent state-sponsored violence and intimidation and to guarantee peaceful transfer of power to the eventual winner of the elections. The peace-keeping monitors should remain on the ground a further three months after elections have been held.

Our Valentine’s Day demands to the Joint Operations, Monitoring and Implementation Committee:
1. Stop ignoring your mandate as outlined clearly in the Global Political Agreement. Start being an effective watchdog for the GPA.
2. Stop sitting on our letters of complaint regarding ill-treatment of our members by the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Investigate urgently and provide us with feedback.

Our Valentine’s Day demands to the Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC): Stop delaying the release of our draft constitution and pay attention to our minimum standards as follows:
1. The principle that all legal and political authority of the state derives from the people. That is what Democracy is all about.
2. Universal adult suffrage, a multi party system of democratic government and free, fair and regular elections to ensure accountability, openness and justice.
3. The inherent dignity and worth of each human being and the equal status of all human beings’ right to life. We demand gender sensitivity, promotion of affirmative action to correct past injustices and promote women’s participation in all spheres of life.
4. The devolution of government functions and powers to the people at provincial and appropriate local levels.
5. The right to state-funded education from preschool to the end of primary education and affordable secondary and tertiary education.
6. Independent courts and equality before the law and the right to full protection and benefit from the law.
7. Right to affordable and decent basic living needs (shelter, water, food and health facilities.)
8. Respect for fundamental human rights- we demand a Bill of rights that shall be guaranteed and fully protected (Justiciable).
9. Transparency and accountability on Public Finance.
10. Limitation of presidential powers, 2 terms of no more than 5years each, and an age limit of 75years for the President.
11. No to arbitrarily deprivation of citizenship

WOZA let’s Do it together – Woza Zimbabwe Woza – Lets Shosholoza for love!

Woza Moya Newsletters 2011

Valentines 2011 Woza Moya

Valentines 2011-ndebele Woza Moya

Valentines 2011-shona Woza Moya

IWD March 2011 Woza moya16days Woza Moya

June2011 Woza Moya

SEPT woza moya PEACE DAY

Sept 2011 PEACE DAY ndebele

16days Woza Moya

One thousand eight hundred members march for love in Bulawayo

AT 10am, five simultaneous protests began in different locations in downtown Bulawayo. One thousand eight hundred women and men, members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) turned out for the ninth edition of the Valentines Day protests, the biggest protest since WOZA these protests began in 2003. The target of the peaceful protest, the offices of The Chronicle newspaper with the objective of testing if there is free media or state propaganda remains entrenched.   The huge mass of singing protestors completely closed off 9th avenue for over 30 minutes.

The second group arriving at The chronicle at 10:15 am 12 Feb 2011.
The second group arriving at The chronicle at 10:15 am 12 Feb 2011.

The men and women aged from 17 to 93 years old, sang songs as they marched and handed out hundreds of red roses, specially prepared Valentine Cards and the Woza Moya (Come healing wind) Newsletter bearing the top ten point on constitutional reform and on the Inclusive Government. Although different songs were sung by the marching formations, one song was featured at The Chronicle offices – ‘Why are Zimbabweans populating other countries – why is that?’ The chorus answers was mentioning the instances of political violence in which people have died forcing people to flee to other countries for their better survival.

A police vehicle arrived on the scene and three plain clothed officers (in striped dresscode, so easily recognisable) went into the protest demanding cards and newsletters. They then started to make their way to the front of the protest making for leaders Williams and Mahlangu but fortunately it was at that point that the protest dispersal slogan was being shouted and people were turning away to go home. Williams and Mahlangu were swept along with the dispersing masses. All that was left was for the three officers to gather up the placards, cards and red roses left for them.

A police BMW vehicle attempted to disperse another protest just after they began by dangerously driving through the protest. Police Officers of the Riot squad came upon some dispersing members at Jason Moyo Avenue and jumped from their vehicle to try to quicken the dispersing activists.  A vehicle full of Riot police was also seen at the bus terminus after the protest monitoring the movement of commuters.

The singing of songs was so well coordinated that several bystanders thought WOZA should form a choir. Another bystander commented ‘please can they say their message well so maybe things can change in Zimbabwe’. Many cars hooted and stopped to get their copies of cards and roses.

WOZA Statement 12 February 2011 – Constitutional Reform and the inclusive Government

Zimbabweans, its time to sweat for a Love that’s the real deal. Demand your rose; Demand a dignified constitution written with love so that it mends our broken hearts. Today we march to the theme: The RISING of the women means the RISING of the nation; No more poverty and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit!

Valentines Day 2011 sees the passing of the second anniversary of the swearing in ceremony of the Inclusive Government, agreed to on 15 September 2008 by the three principals and witnessed by then SA President, Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the SADC guarantors. We continue to study the agreement between the ZANU PF and the two MDC formations and note the selective implementation and the focus of this is still based on their own interests and not the interest of the population at large.

Despite the promises in many of the articles, we do not see any equality; national healing; increased respect for the constitution and rule of law; we long for the freedom of assembly and association and are still desperate for free political activity. Instead of the promise of security of persons and prevention of violence, we are seeing more militia camps being set up than we saw in 2008 and once again we have hundreds of displaced people.

We were encouraged by the formation of COPAC and the beginning of implementation of the constitutional article points in article 6 (VI) and the setting up of the Select Committee of Parliament (COPAC) despite their slow and painful conducting of public outreach. We are waiting for the draft Constitution to be presented to the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference and referendum but COPAC you are living on borrowed time! If we follow the timeframes set out in the GPA, we should be having the referendum now. Anyway as you are now writing the constitution draft, we expect to see our views respected and included. We wait to see our top ten views featuring, these are:

1. National values, aspirations and founding principles of the constitution – We require a constitution that allows for: value and respect the sanctity of human life, with dignity and respect; for democratically elected leaders at all levels who consult people; separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary complete with checks and balances to prevent corruption and misuse of office and right of recall;
2. The state should allow everyone born in Zimbabwe to be a citizen automatically and the constitution must disallow the arbitrary deprivation of citizenship.
3. We require and expanded Bill of Rights with rights guaranteed and fully protected (justiciable) with clear protection provisions and remedies for violations provided in the courts.
4. Special emphasis on the full enjoyment of the Political Rights free and fair and regular elections; vote in secrecy; right to form political parties and participate in political activities; right to stand for public office and to campaign freely.
5. Right to personal security and fair treatment when in lawful custody; protection from arbitrary displacement from their homes; Protection from public and domestic violence; Right to liberty, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.
6. We demand full enjoyment of all Social, Economic and Cultural rights. Social rights must include, but not be limited to the right to affordable and decent basic living needs-shelter, water, food and health delivery systems. Special emphasis on the full enjoyment of and the right to free compulsory and quality primary education, affordable secondary and tertiary education.
7. We demand full enjoyment of all Women and gender rights. Women have the right to affirmative action to correct past injustices and promote women’s participation and gender in all spheres of life.
8. We demand democratic Systems of government: Devolution of power, that allow for local controls over all resources and local councils. There must be sharing of power at provincial and local levels.
9. We demand a constitution that limits executive power, which has long been abused. The Arms of state points should include an Executive President who is elected directly by all voters in the first past the post system, 2 terms of office of no more than 5years, age limit should be between 40-65year. Such a President must not be above the law-no special privileges and be able to be prosecuted, sued and recalled.
10. We require a Public finance system that includes public hearings to determine priorities and the presentation of local, provincial and national budgets for public approval. Government must be transparent and accountable and present a gendered analysis of any budget presented to parliament.

The principals said they were signing the agreement to form the Inclusive Government in the name of the ‘suffering masses of Zimbabwe’ but in reality, the IG was imposed on us by SADC. Our suffering continues and violence is increasing. It is clear from the timeframes of the constitution reform process that Zimbabwe should now be having a referendum, which would be followed by an election. As we analyse the current situation, we realize that the Inclusive government is living on borrowed time. Time borrowed from COPAC delays and the people’s good nature. Politicians are now taking advantage of our good nature and our patience is wearing thin. We demand the dismantling of militia bases and prosecution of all perpetrators of violence; that government leaders begin to put Zimbabwe first and give us a genuine chance of rebuilding and reconstructing our livelihoods. We demand the right to trade needed to end poverty and starvation; We also demand the lifting of sanctions on the people’s peaceful existence imposed by a politicized police force and their handlers in Zanu PF. We demand a real deal – a real love that can mend our broken hearts!

Two women released in Mutare

Sibongile Matupe and Rose Rukwewo, the two women arrested in Mutare on Wednesday, have finally been unconditionally released. Their lawyer, Mr Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, had managed to get the two women released into his custody last night on the proviso that they would appear in court this morning charged with criminal nuisance. Investigating Officer Renzo had initially insisted on keeping the women in for the full 48 hours despite acknowledging that he had no evidence that they had done anything illegal. Upon arrival at court this morning, the prosecutor refused to accept the charges as police had no evidence. The women were therefore unconditionally released.

Both women are okay after their ordeal. Rose, an elderly woman who suffers from hypertension, had been unwell. She received medical attention this morning and will be all right.

WOZA would like to commend officials in Mutare Magistrate’s Court for their observance of the law and for refusing to participate in the malicious harassment of two innocent women. We would also like to thank all friends and supporters who tried to call Mutare Police Station or emailed their support. Rose and Sibongile have been informed of the solidarity they received from all over the world and are humbled by the support.

Two women remain in custody in Mutare; police want to make more arrests

The two women arrested in Mutare yesterday, Sibongile Matupe and Rose Rukwewo, remain in custody at Mutare Central Police Station despite the fact that police have admitted that they have no evidence to charge the two women with participating in a demonstration. They now want to prefer charges of criminal nuisance against the women even though the women were taken from their own homes at the time of their arrest. In an act of pure maliciousness and harassment, police are also insisting that the two women remain in custody for the full 48 hours before being taken to court.

Officers from Law and Order are also insisting that they want to make more arrests of people they claim participated in the peaceful street protest on Tuesday 16th. They apparently have a list of people that they looking for. This is despite the fact that they already have admitted that they have no evidence to charge anyone with participating in the peaceful protest.

There are concerns for the well-being of Rose Rukwewo, an elderly woman, as she suffers from hypertension and is currently unwell. The lawyer’s attempts to have her released on medical grounds have come to nothing.

The arrest of these women is further evidence that nothing has changed on the ground for human rights defenders in Zimbabwe. Police continue to act with impunity and without any regard for the law – the houses of the two women were searched without warrants; they were also denied access to their lawyer for hours, during which time they were subjected to intense interrogation. The two women were also subjected to severe pressure to pay ‘admission of guilt’ fines.

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 and MOZA continue demand for bread and roses in Mutare today

Following on from peaceful protests in Bulawayo and Harare in recent days, 300 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise marched through central Mutare today. As in the other demonstrations, the peaceful protestors handed out Valentine cards, red roses and abbreviated copies of WOZA’s report on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe. No arrests have been reported at the time of this release.

The peaceful group marched several blocks to Meikles Park where they sang and handed out Valentine cards and roses to passers-by who seemed to be stunned to see WOZA in full voice in Mutare. Songs sung by the peaceful protestors included: “our road is thorny, we need to kneel and pray” and “we call to you, our Jesus.

As the march took place in central Mutare, a public meeting on the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) was taking place in Sakubva. It is assumed therefore that the police did not respond to the protestas they were otherwise occupied. The march continues WOZA’s campaign to persuade Zimbabweans to engage in civic processes and actively join in democratising Zimbabwe.

To read a full copy of WOZA’s report on democracy, click here: Hearts starve as well as bodies – a WOZA perspective on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe

WOZA and MOZA march in Bulawayo today to demand bread and roses

WOZA & MOZA members outside the Chronicle offices
WOZA & MOZA members outside the Chronicle offices

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

WOZA and MOZA march in the streets of Harare today to mark Valentine’s Day

AT noon today 700 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise marched through central Harare to the offices of the state-owned Herald newspaper, handing out Valentine cards, red roses and abbreviated copies of WOZA’s report on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe. No arrests have been reported at the time of this release.

In typical WOZA fashion, six protests started separately and converged on the offices of the Herald. The peaceful groups sang as they marched, handing out roses and Valentine cards to excited Saturday shoppers who rushed forward to accept the gifts. At the Herald offices, the peaceful protestors chanted slogans for a few minutes before leaving a copy of the report, a Valentine rose and a WOZA scarf at the door before dispersing without incident.

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.

The Valentine cards handed out by the marchers read: “It is not enough that bread has returned to our shelves. Our hearts are also starving for a people-driven constitution. We demand a living constitution that will give us bread and roses too! Just like the thorns on a rose, love comes with pain, we must be willing to fight through the pain to get our new constitution. Demand your Rose – stand up for love. Shine Zimbabwe Shine!

Songs sung by the peaceful protestors included: “We want our constitution; we want our rose“, “love is needed in Zimbabwe urgently“, “it is difficult to live in a country where thorns are in our way, we need to kneel and pray” and “if your heart is troubled, trust in the Lord (John 14:1).”

The peaceful protest today was a test of civic and media freedoms under the GNU at a time when the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) is being publicly debated in Zimbabwe.

A full copy of the report can be found at the following link: Hearts starve as well as bodies: a WOZA perspective on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe

WOZA take to the streets of Bulawayo on Valentine’s Day

WOZA sit down during their Valentine protest, Bulawayo
WOZA sit down during their Valentine protest, Bulawayo

Members in Bulawayo took to the streets on Saturday 14th February, three days after the swearing in of the new government and one day after the swearing in of the new Cabinet. At least 800 members took part in the peaceful proceedings, urging Zimbabweans to let love light the way.

The peaceful Valentine’s protest had four different starting points. The plan was for all four groups to meet at a central point and process together to the office of the state-owned Chronicle newspaper. All four demonstrations started on time, despite a heavy police presence in the city centre. One of the first groups was stopped after one block by riot police however. A leader was arrested and the rest of the group told to disperse, which they did peacefully.

The other three groups successfully met up with each other on the corner of 9th Avenue and Fort Street but were unable to process further as they were stopped by riot police. Hundreds of members were held under arrest at this point. They were then ordered by a senior police officer to march to City Hall. As the group was so large however, and the number of police escorts relatively few, many were able to slip away as they walked the several blocks to City Hall. At City Hall, those under arrest were asked to present their identification cards to police and were searched. Anyone found with WOZA materials (including red roses) were sent to Central Police Station. Those that did not have any WOZA items in their possession were released.

As people slipped away from police, they met up with those that had avoided arrest and continued with spontaneous marches through town or else congregated as delegations at the Chronicle. Several groups of WOZA members were seen entering the Chronicle offices to deliver Valentine’s cards, roses and flyers.

It also appears that police did not remain nonviolent. Witnesses reported seeing riot police randomly beating people, some several blocks away from the demonstration. Six young men, who just happened to be passing the offices of the Chronicle, were observed to be beaten by riot police. Chronicle staff members were also seen to be pointing out WOZA members who had delivered Valentine’s cards and roses to their offices to the police, leading to their arrest.

The demonstrations and the chaotic and violent dispersal were witnessed by three South African observers from civic society – Precious Myeza from South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), Sakina Mohamed from the South African Council of Churches and Bunie Matlanyane Sexwale from Khulumani Support Group as part of the Save Zimbabwe Now Coalition. All were present to provide solidarity with WOZA members as it was strongly suspected that police would react oppressively as there is little doubt in the minds of ordinary Zimbabweans that the unity government has not changed anything on the ground.

After all the confusion and chaos of the day, seven WOZA women and three male members of Radio Dialogue, a community-based radio station, who were observing the demonstration, were arrested and spent four nights in custody at Bulawayo Central Police Station. The group were denied access to their lawyer until Monday morning, two days after their arrest.

This was a clear violation of Zimbabwean laws which allow police 48-hours within which to charge people and bring them to court. Police argued that the 48 hour period of detention had not expired but according to the Criminal Evidence and Procedure Act, it starts from the moment of arrest (regardless of whether on a weekend or not) and can only be extended if the 48-hour period expires on a non-court day.

The group were kept in horrific conditions. The cells were filthy with overflowing toilets and on the first night, they were severely overcrowded. Food bins were not emptied regularly so maggots could be seen crawling in the bins. The women were also subjected to invasive strip searches every day. One woman on anti-retroviral treatment had to fight for access to her tablets every day by demanding to see the officer-in-charge as police tried to deny her access to her life-saving medication – on one occasion, she was actually denied her ARVs.

As well as being denied access to their lawyer and being kept in horrific conditions, the group was also subjected to intense pressure to pay admission of guilt fines. Due to this intense pressure and the deplorable conditions in the cells, six of the detained group succumbed and paid fines for obstructing traffic on Tuesday afternoon – the three Radio Dialogue staff, and three WOZA members, two mothers and one member who developed a bad rash.

Four women refused to bow to pressure and insisted on being taken to court. In a surprise twist, they were released from custody later that same evening and instructed to return to the police station the next morning. When they presented themselves the next morning, they were informed by the Investigating Officer, Constable Masawi, that the charges against them were being changed and so the paperwork would need to be prepared from the beginning. They spent the morning at the police station being processed for the fresh charges and were informed that they would be taken to court the next morning.

The new charges were under Section 46 2 (v) of the Third Schedule to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘employs any means whatsoever which are likely materially to interfere with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public or any section of the public, or does any act which is likely to create a nuisance or obstruction’. They had previously been charged under Section 37 (1b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘ … performs any action, utters any words or distributes or displays any writing, sign or other visible representation that is obscene, threatening, abusive or insulting, intending thereby to provoke a breach of the peace…’

The four women were finally taken to court on Thursday morning on the fresh charges of criminal nuisance. The prosecutor at Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court refused to entertain the charges however. All four women were therefore unconditionally released after six days of harassment and intimidation by police, four of which were spent in horrific conditions in police cells. In consultation with the four women, WOZA is considering suing the Zimbabwe Republic Police for wrongful arrest and detention.

The names of those arrested were: Barbara Bepe, Patience Mpofu, Praise Mlangeni, Gladys Dube, Shingirai Mupani, Virginia Sithole, and Peace Mthethwa. The three men from Radio Dialogue were Thandazani Nkomo, Zenzele Ndebele and Oscar Hungwe.

The events in Harare and Bulawayo, together with the arrest of MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett on the day of the swearing in of Ministers and the continued incarceration of Jestina Mukoko and other abductees despite court orders instructing their release, are further evidence however that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe. More than ever Zimbabweans need to remain vigilant and participate in defending their rights and freedoms against a regime determined to cling to power despite the platitudes they mouth that they are prepared to share power.

WOZA activists are arrested by police, Bulawayo, 14 February 2009
WOZA activists are arrested by police, Bulawayo, 14 February 2009