Category Archives: People’s Charter

Gweru Launches The People’s Charter

Monday 5th March – 6pm
Over 100 WOZA members in Gweru marched through the centre of town this morning to launch the People’s Charter and to encourage the people of their city to join in the struggle for social justice.

They marched from the clock along Robert Mugabe Way to the Post Office, where they were stopped by police. They then dispersed in order to avoid beatings, but approximately 20 were arrested and are currently in custody. Several of those in custody were beaten, but the extent of their injuries is not yet known. Lawyers are in attendance at the police station. It appears that some of those arrested were not WOZA members but by-standers, but the details are not yet available.

Two water cannons were also out on the streets but did not deter the members from starting the protest. Neither did police knowledge of the starting point. Once members realized the original starting point had been compromised, they switched to Plan B and then back to Plan A again when police followed them.

More details will be given as they become available.

Open letter to UNDP regarding the People’s Charter

Dr. Agostinho Zacarias
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Ms Agnes Asekongye Oonyu
United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Dear Dr Zacarias and Madam Asekongye Oonyu,

Re: The People’s Charter – a blueprint for a better Zimbabwe

The women and men of WOZA have initiated a non-violent campaign with the aim of mobilising Zimbabweans to demand social justice from their leaders. The time has come to put the past behind us and start building a better tomorrow. We plan to hold existing leaders accountable and mobilise people to demand leaders who will deliver all aspects of social justice and a genuinely people-driven constitution. We need help from international friends however and this is why we are approaching you.

Our resolution was made after an eleven-month, nationwide consultation process. During 2006, over 284 meetings, consulting almost 10,000 rural and urban people on social justice were conducted. The people spoke clearly about what they want in a new Zimbabwe and their contributions formed the People’s Charter, which is attached below.

As Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) take to the streets of Bulawayo and Harare today to mark WOZA’s fifth Valentine’s Campaign, they will be marching with the theme ‘The People’s Charter – giving you a better life, a better Zimbabwe’.

In Harare, the protest is starting outside the offices of the UNDP. In WOZA’s first Valentine’s campaign in 2003, then Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, was chosen as WOZA’s ‘valentine’ and a petition delivered to the UNDP at the start of the demonstration. It was decided that it was therefore fitting to go back to where it all began in this, WOZA’s fifth year.

Five years later as we march in our Valentines Day procession, Zimbabwe is in even worse a position than what originally drove the women of this country to take a stand against the deteriorating situation in their homeland. We therefore ask that you consider this Charter to be a plea to the United Nations from the people of Zimbabwe. It is what the people want for their future – it is what we believe can bring a better Zimbabwe. We ask that you consider the Charter as the voices of ordinary Zimbabweans asking your organization to use whatever influence it can to bring about the socially just future we all desire.

Please open up your heart and read it sincerely knowing that it contains the dreams and desires of a heartbroken nation.

Yours faithfully,

Members and supporters of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise

An open letter to political parties and civic leaders from WOZA

To:

  • First Secretary and Chairman, Zanu PF – R. G. Mugabe and John Nkomo; and
  • Presidents/Chairmen of all other political parties:

Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) Presidents Tsvangirai and Mutambara, PF ZAPU, ZAPU 2000, Zanu Ndonga, UPM, UPP, PUMA, DP, Zimbabwe Peoples Democratic Party, Zimbabwe Youth in Alliance; and

  • Leaders of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civic Movements.

Your Excellency, Honorable Members of Parliament, Senators, Chiefs, Mayors, Councilors, Comrades and Friends,As we write this open letter, Zimbabweans are living in a state of fear and uncertainty. They suffer discrimination in all its forms and are unable to earn a living. Levels of poverty are high; unemployment is at 82% and inflation at four figures. Non-existent service delivery also makes life difficult. Access to education, housing and other basic needs is now only for the rich. The HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has created thousands of orphans and child-headed households, is a social catastrophe compounded by a failed healthcare system and little or no access to ARVs. Further loss of valuable human resources is happening due to people leaving the country in large numbers. People have been unsuccessful at holding their government accountable due to a raft of repressive laws and shrinking freedom of expression/media space. Corruption at all levels of government and the politicisation of all aspects of society has led to chaos and disorganization in every sector.

Women and men of WOZA have initiated a non-violent campaign with the aim of mobilising Zimbabweans to demand social justice from their leaders. The time has come to put the past behind us and start building a better tomorrow. We plan to hold existing leaders accountable and mobilise people to demand leaders who will deliver all aspects of social justice and a genuinely people-driven constitution.

This resolution was made after an eleven-month, nationwide consultation process. During 2006, over 284 meetings, consulting almost 10,000 rural and urban people on social justice were conducted. The people spoke clearly about what they want in a new Zimbabwe and their contributions are contained in the People’s Charter attached below.

Please open up your heart and read it sincerely knowing that it contains the dreams and desires of a heartbroken nation. We are looking to ALL leaders to provide a public reply and endorsement of the People’s Charter and would be happy to have this by Valentine’s Day on 14th February 2007.

WOZA looks forward to working hand in hand with any political or civic leaders who have publicly endorsed the People’s Charter to deliver social justice and honour the wishes of the Zimbabwean people.

WOZA declare a victory after successfully launching The People’s Charter at Parliament in Harare

More than 800 members of Women Of Zimbabwe Arise and Men Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) today marched to Parliament in Harare to launch the People’s Charter. Two groups started at different locations in central Harare, converging on Parliament at the same time. Upon arriving at Parliament, the two groups were met by riot police and arrested.

Police hold members of WOZA/MOZA outside Parliament in Harare

Police held the group of approximately 350 people, who were sitting peacefully, for more than an hour in front of the Parliament buildings before unexpectedly releasing them. WOZA/ MOZA members were made to sit for more than an hour under police guard whilst riot and uniformed police were seen conferencing and seemed to be in a dilemma as to what to do with the group. Several people, including parliamentarians, came out of the Parliament Buildings to observe the proceedings and to read the placards the group was holding, and many took copies of the Peoples’ Charter.

Members had come from all around the county to join the march – from Bulawayo, Mutare, Chegutu, Gweru and some rural areas. After the brutality with which police attacked WOZA members in Bulawayo two weeks ago, members had braced themselves for a similar response. They were surprised however upon being told that they could go back to their homes after being warned that they were demonstrating illegally and that they were not allowed to walk or even sit like they were doing! What was even more surprising was that Jenni Williams, WOZA’s National Coordinator, was invited to address the group before they dispersed.

At one stage a senior police officer asked the group who the leaders was and when he was told everyone is a leader, he then took five members from the main group, including two men and an elderly woman on crutches, loading them onto the back of a police vehicle and taking down their names. A Human Rights lawyer who was on site questioned this and some time later the five were made to rejoin the rest of the group.

The response to the People’s Charter from Zimbabweans all over the world has been overwhelming and today was no different. Pedestrians in downtown Harare rushed to receive copies of the Charter from the marching groups and in fact, the only WOZA items that remain in custody tonight is the People’s Charter and placards including those calling for 2008 Parliamentary and Presidential elections.

The reaction of the Zimbabwe Republic Police today was a victory for WOZA’s non-violent strategy and for the power of social justice. The WOZA leadership would like to commend the Zimbabwe Republic Police for showing that they are human beings also requiring social justice in their lives. However WOZA would also like to warn them that if they are turning over a new leaf it should be apparent every day, not only today but also in the future.

Having successfully launched the Charter in Harare and Bulawayo, WOZA is now planning to roll out launch demonstrations across the country. We will be coming to a town near you! Join us in demanding a socially just Zimbabwe.

WOZA goes door to door to confirm a ‘People’s Charter’

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) have finished an eleven-month long programme of social justice consultations, which saw them holding 284 defiance meetings with approximately 10,000 Zimbabweans nationwide. In the WOZA way, most meetings were carried out in defiance of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

The response from the communities visited was overwhelming, especially in the rural areas. Although rural residents have been branded the regime’s most unwavering supporters, so desperate are they for change that they were willing to walk for several kilometres to a meeting just to be heard.

Areas covered include Bulawayo, Harare, Chitungwiza, Gwanda, Victoria Falls, Binga, Gwanda, Matobo, Insiza, Kezi, Hwange, Tsholotsho, Turk Mine, Binga, Chimanimani, Mutare, Masvingo, Nyanga, Nyazura, Rusape, Buhera, Bikita, Kadoma, Kariba, Mvurwi, Shamva, Norton, Chegutu, Gweru, Marondera, Karoi, Sadza, Guruve, and Chivhu.

“I am not valued” People’s disappointment was clearly evident in every meeting, bemoaning the fact that government has failed to fulfil its promises.

Said Mbuya Motsi from Chimanimani: “the people we chose to lead us have forgotten us and we have become ghosts in our motherland. The situation we are in right now is the same as a person who goes to bed but can not change sides, you need to change sides and turn now and again, without which one is most likely to wake up all sore and stiff”.

A dejected Jonathan Zimbe from Dzivarasekwa, Harare went on, “I do not feel part of Zimbabwe. I am not valued and I have no role in influencing the state.”

During the consultations the issue of lack of adequate medical services and ‘dying with dignity’ was raised countless times. Residents in Bulawayo’s Pumula suburb complained that ‘corpses are piling up like sacks of maize in mortuaries – you can barely recognize your dead’. In Victoria Falls people are now afraid to take sick relatives to hospitals because they get abused by hospital staff that shout at them, “what the hell do you want us to do with your sick ones?”

What was also clear in all the meetings was the outspokenness of the elderly. At the only health facility in Ratanyane, a mission hospital, old people are no longer accepted. “How can a nation be a nation without old people?” they queried.

The young are equally dissatisfied. In Ratanyane, Maphisa, young married couples complained of being unable to get their own land or permission to build houses so they are forced to live with their in-laws in overcrowded conditions.

In Chegutu, illiterate adults are still waiting for the free education promised to adults who missed the opportunity to be educated during the war of liberation. Nationwide, the crescendo of voices reminding leaders to deliver the free primary and affordable secondary education promised at Independence cannot be suppressed.

Injustices – past and present In Mleja, Dewe, Datata, Njube and Magwegwe, people are still upset about the desecration of the Njelele shrine in Matobo, Matabeleland, which they say angered the gods. They want those that dismantled it to appease the ancestral spirits and return the stolen pots. Another issue that caused great bitterness and anger in most areas in Matabeleland was that of Gukurahundi. Most people want those responsible to make a meaningful apology and compensation to be paid to survivors. Other calls were for psycho-social support for survivors, death certificates for the ‘disappeared’ and an overwhelming longing for people to know what happened to their loved ones. Another injustice, Murambatsvina, was also raised with calls for the perpetrators to be held accountable and victims to be given compensation and housing.

In Turk Mine, people also objected to being forced to go to ZANU PF meetings and chant slogans by the police. In Madwaleni, the situation is also similar, as one of them aptly put it: “People in Zimbabwe only have one right in their lives – to talk about ZANU PF.” Parents from Pumula, Bulawayo added that they eagerly waited for their children to come back from the Border Gezi National Youth Service, patriotic and empowered, but their children came back from the camps brainwashed and rude, pregnant or with sexually transmitted diseases.

Despite the eagerness of people to share their views, WOZA members were almost arrested and constantly harassed during the consultation period, at times having to avoid youth militia and state security agents. The most recent incident being the harassment of two members in the Chivhu area three weeks ago as they tried to talk about social justice and discuss with locals what their vision of a new Zimbabwe would be. Police forced nine villagers to sign statements hoping to charge WOZA leaders after the consultation. The villagers argued that they were only being consulted on a Zimbabwe that would dignify them and that they were very happy to be consulted by WOZA, which is not a political party. One elderly lady even insisted that her statement reflect that in South Africa the elderly receive assistance from the state and that she wanted similar support. Despite the reluctance of the villagers, police insisted on taking the WOZA leaders to court – only for the Prosecutor to refuse to press charges.

WOZA carried on amidst the harassment, spurred on by the despair of a nation which has ‘received nothing but distrust and fear from our leaders’, as one resident of Warren Park testified. WOZA’s mandate is to hold Zimbabwe’s leaders accountable because people “were promised silver and gold where as up to date they were paid by words without meaning.” (Matshobana)