Category Archives: Solidarity statements

Persecution by prosecution of Human Rights Defenders continues

Persecution by prosecution of Human Rights Defenders continues: Court appearances; Williams and Mahlangu avoid persecution; Release our comrades

SEVEN members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) appeared in Tredgold Magistrates Court today 16 March, they will reappear again on 23rd of March 2011. The 3 women and 4 men arrested on 28 February in two separate incidents in Entumbane and Mabutweni. Although reporting conditions were relaxed and they now only report once a week, charges were not dropped as there is resistance from the police officers.

Before they appeared in Court, the Defence lawyer Matshobana Ncube met with the provincial area prosecutor and the Attorney general’s office Mrs Cheda who indicated that they have formally requested a meeting with the District Commanding Police Officer Inspector R. Masina to obtain understanding as to the significance of the Supreme Court ruling to prevent the continued arrest of WOZA members by the police officers in defiance of the ruling. The Supreme Court ruling was obtained by WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu from a 16 October 2008 arrest and 3 week detention at Mlondolozi prison.

An update on the three women, Eneles Dube, Janet Dube and Selina Dube arrested during the 7th March protest were followed home and brought  to court to be formally charged.

On the 10th of March 2011 Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights was advised by Bulawayo Central Police Station from Constable Runesu that District Commanding Police Officer (DISPOL)  Inspector R Masina had demanded that the three Eneles Dube and others  be formally charged. They appeared in court on 11th of March 2011 with Defence lawyer Kossam Ncube. They were charged with criminal nuisance as defined in paragraph 2[v] of the Third schedule to the Criminal Law [ Codification and Reform] Act, Chapter 9:23 as with section 46 of the said Act which basically means ‘blocking the pavement’.

They appeared before Magistrate Gideon Ruvetsa and Public Prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa, where they were remanded on free bail out of custody to the 21st of March 2011. Lawyer Kossam Ncube indicated to the court than on the 21st he will note an application of refusal of further remand.

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu are currently on a speaking tour of the United Kingdom and United States of America. In the last month after the Valentines Day protests, Police officers launched regular visits to their homes and sent messages through members that they tortured to reveal the whereabouts of the leaders. Police officers also contacted a Human Rights lawyer, demanding he bring the leaders to Bulawayo Central Police station indicating that they ‘must prepare themselves for a long detention’. As a result of the supreme Court ruling which police are obviously ignoring, it was determined that they  of this heightened harassment and obvious ignoring of the Supreme Court ruling, Williams and Mahlangu have not voluntarily presented themselves to this persecution.

WOZA call on the all officers Zimbabwe Republic Police to professionalise and shake themselves from the choke of their political masters.  The days of reckoning will come soon and they will be faced with the guilt of their torture alone. They must not blindly follow the dictates of politicians to arrest and detain human rights defenders but should interrogate as decent human beings the letter of the law and the principle of investigate to arrest not arrest to investigate. We call on them to free all human rights defenders in custody including our Comrades Gwisai, Gumbo, Tafadzwa and others.

Please watch this rough footage of the Valentines’ Day protest that has got the state shivering

A message of solidarity with the people of Burma on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) express solidarity with the people of Burma in their ongoing struggle for freedom and participatory democracy. We welcome the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. Her personal courage and determination have been an inspiration to us in our own struggle and we celebrate her release with her friends and supporters around the world.

The recent elections were deeply flawed. Thousands of political prisoners remain in detention. The road ahead will be long and difficult.
We wish Aung San Suu Kyi and all the people of Burma the necessary strength and courage to keep up their fight for freedom and social justice.  We urge them to believe in their own power to achieve their goals however long it takes and in spite of the sacrifices.

In recognition of the need for all people’s movements to join together in a common effort to build genuine democracies, members of WOZA and MOZA stand in solidarity with our Burmese brothers and sisters. May we all succeed in our efforts to create a just world in which the life of every human being is valued.

Aluta continua!

Statement on International Women’s Day and death of Mrs Susan Tsvangirai

As the world, including Zimbabwe, commemorates International Women’s Day, members of WOZA find little to celebrate.

As organisations, both local and international, take the opportunity afforded by International Women’s Day to speak out about the need for gender equality, respect for women’s right and an end to violence, WOZA joins the chorus. Yet we understand that women in Zimbabwe, and Africa as a whole, need much more than rhetoric – they need action. And actions speak louder than words.

The current situation of the ordinary woman in Zimbabwe is heartbreaking.

She only lives until the age of 34 because the Mugabe regime killed a perfectly good health system. She can hardly access antiretroviral treatment and even if she does, the three meals a day she needs to take them with is impossible. She cannot put a full nutritious meal on the table for her family because Zimbabwe is no longer the breadbasket of Africa but its basket case. She cannot afford to buy food even if it is available because the Mugabe regime put the economy in intensive care and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono put a bullet to its head when he started to remove zeros without comprehensive reforms.

A mother is always preoccupied with a better future for her children so that she can dream about sitting in the shade and being looked after for a change. But the prospects for this have been thrown out of the window by the destruction of the education system by the Mugabe regime. Educating children was already a challenge previously but in 2008 it became a form of torture for parents. Teachers left, school buildings deteriorated, text and exercise books disappeared to be sold on the streets for exorbitant prices. Government did not even bother to buy chalk, and this burden, along with that of paying teachers, fell on the parents’ shoulders.

Zimbabwe, in the throes of a political and governance crisis, failed to safeguard the rights of children to an education and their right to a better future. The untold story of Zimbabwe is the impact of the crisis on the lives of our children – how these innocent souls will bear the terrible burden of our adult hatred and intolerance.

In Zimbabwe there is now an ‘inclusive’ government but whilst it includes opposing political parties it falls far short of including women who take the time to speak out for women’s equality. WOZA does not feel represented by the mere fact that there are some women in political office. We want women to use their position to engage and consult women and further our combined interests.  If one takes the time to study the 15th September 2008 Global Political Agreement, rhetoric about women’s representation abounds but they appear to be words without meaning.

Three weeks after the inauguration of this government and 29 years after so-called Independence, women are still not fairly represented in most spheres in Zimbabwe. Peaceful protest is broken up by men armed with baton sticks and women who are simply demanding their constitutional rights are beaten, arrested and detained.

On 9th March 2009, two WOZA leaders will be in the dock in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court facing a possible five years in prison for demanding political leaders allow free access to food aid for starving Zimbabweans. In the words of a police officer, this was a crime of ‘exciting people’. In a justice system backlogged for years, with thousands of Zimbabweans in prison and unable to be fed or brought to court, the fact that this case has been prioritised is further proof that women human rights defenders continue to be harassed and intimidated merely for speaking out on behalf of their families.

So a year after WOZA members were beaten and arrested in Bulawayo whilst commemorating International Women’s Day, we still do not find anything in our hearts to celebrate. Instead we use this occasion to remind our leaders that actions speak louder than words. And to light a candle against the darkness so as to guide our steps on the road to a socially just Zimbabwe. WOZA will continue to demand bread and roses, a full enjoyment of all our social, economic, cultural and political rights and the social justice that will restore our dignity as women. By continuing to take the step forward, perhaps by the next International Women’s Day, we will have something to celebrate.

Mrs Susan Tsvangirai – WOZA mourns the loss of a mother to the nation

Our troubled hearts are further burdened and saddened by the untimely death of Mrs Susan Tsvangirai.  WOZA was looking forward to Susan being the mother to the nation that we have long waited for. We witnessed her dignity and strength in standing by the side of her husband during their 31 years of marriage and understand the unexpressed pain she must have endured watching her husband suffer at the hands of a brutal regime. We had hoped and prayed that she would enjoy a semblance of peace at his side as a mother of the nation. The loss of this mother of six and tower of strength to her husband is a shocking blow to the nation and all Zimbabwean women. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the Prime Minister, their children who have lost their mother and rest of their family. May her soul rest in blessed peace at last.

WOZA expresses solidarity with the people of Burma

Women of Zimbabwe Arise  – (WOZA) express solidarity with the people of Burma in their ongoing struggle to free themselves from the tyranny of military rule. We recognise the need for all people’s movements to join together in a common effort to build genuine democracies, which can work to bring the benefits of collective wealth to everyone and not just the privileged few.

We are inspired by the courage and determination of the tens of thousands of Burmese citizens and urge them to believe in their own power to achieve their goals however long it takes and despite the sacrifices. May we all work in solidarity to create a just world which values the life of every human being.