Category Archives: Campaigns

Members urge Mayor to stand up for right to trade

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) today submitted a letter to the Executive Mayor of Bulawayo Councillor Martin Moyo, calling on him to stand with the people of Bulawayo trying to eke out a living by informal trade. The majority of WOZA members are involved in informal trading.

WOZA members urged him to be courageous and defend the Constitutional right to earn a living.

WOZA made recommendations as to what issues the Executive Mayor should address as part of a collect Council and Civic Society initiative and ignore the ultimatum from the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for vendors to vacate the pavements and streets by 26 June 2015.

The open letter reads, “Executive Mayor we will stand by you if you stand by us. Let’s us find sustainable livelihood’s in a dignified manner befitting Zimbabweans. Don’t be a part of another ‘moment of madness’. We will not be moved from our streets until there is a comprehensive plan in place.”

See the open letter here
Open Letter 24 June 2015

Police disturb WOZA loveday

Bulawayo members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) selected Friday 13th February 2015 to conduct their 13th Valentine’s Day procession. At 245pm, two processions began, one in 9th Avenue and one in 14th Avenue. Both processions had over 550 members taking part and marching through the city to the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex to hand over a petition to the resident minister.

The protest was conducted under the theme – Demanding Dignity – Demanding Women’s Empowerment! The protest followed a civic education programme covering the constitution clauses on the right to earn a living. Members’ demands were written on placards and contained in the Woza Moya newsletter being distributed along with the traditional red roses.
The demands included the creation of jobs, a halt on the relocation of informal traders from Bulawayo city centre and the urgent convening of a country wide consultation to map a collective way forward on how to revamp the economy putting women and youth at the centre of the economic empowerment action plan.

Both protest groups arrived undisturbed at the government complex after a 20 minute march. The police officers in the vehicles merely watched and followed. Upon arrival at the complex, the security guards immediately locked the gate barring the two members due to deliver the demand entry. Undeterred the peaceful members began their Mhlahlandlela programme, singing their composed songs stating their demands and putting across their views. As the final stage of the programme was coming to an end, 15 anti riot police officers who had been dropped off a distance away arrived where the singing and slogan chanting members were located.

They made to surround those by the gates and started to push them away with baton sticks. WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu both advised the police officers that the protest was now dispersing and asked them to allow for closing slogans for peaceful dispersing. Both were rudely told to shut up and get away, both were manhandled as they tried to stress that police officers were now causing disorder by prodding and threatening to beat members, by now many afraid and beginning to run away. The police officers continued to push the leaders and members down the road towards Herbert Chitepo Street.

As the front group reached this street, they made to turn left to go towards the bus terminus, anti riot officers ran and blocked them once again prodding and manhandling those trying to get to the terminus through this road. With no choice those in this forced procession, and then went towards 12th avenue hoping to once again take a route to the terminus, once again the police officers ran and blocked them. Now perplexed most members kept demanding where they should go and they were answered by baton sticks in the ribs or back respectively depending on which way they were facing.

A police twin cab showed up with an occupant obviously a high ranking officer, both Williams and Mahlangu went to ask him if he could make the orders clear but he ignored both with a stony demeanour. This officer was engaged repeatedly by WOZA leaders but he remained un-responsive and showed no obvious role as an officer sworn to uphold peace and order.

As the members now in some sort of a ‘forced procession’ continued to be shepherded out of town some police officers began to let on that they were pushing members to the industrial sites. Some police officers threatened that they were awaiting the arrival of a vehicle to take members to be dumped in Plumtree, a town 100 kilometres away. For several more city blocks the police officers blocked any exits, using baton sticks and threatening now numbering over 90 members. They refused to allow a slower pace or rest in the shade for anyone, even the elderly.

At the intersection of 15th avenue and H. Chitepo Street, the start of the industrial area, two members fainted. One member, Thabani Nyoni was beaten on her lower back and immediately fell down and was unconscious. The other member was quickly revived but Thabani spent over 10 minutes unconscious. When she came to she could not speak, an ambulance had to be called due to her condition. At this time some police officers had continued to push members for another 30 minutes deeper into the industrial area. Some members managed to stay behind with the unconscious members, until the ambulance had arrived and loaded up Thabani to take her to hospital.

After the ambulance left, 50 members marched back into the city in a final action of defiance exercising their right to protest. As they marched they sang ‘WOZA will never be killed’ right up to the bus terminus where they peacefully dispersed as had been the original plan. The police boss and 6 officers followed in the twin cab but made no further attempt to disrupt the march. As this final contingent came back through the route they had taken forced by police baton sticks, vendors and bystanders who had witnessed the first event clapped hands and ululated.

Five members had to receive medication for soft tissue bruising and Thabani was admitted to the emergency rooms and finally discharged two hours later.

WOZA leadership met on 16 February to discuss police behaviour during the protest. They resolved to write a formal letter of complaint to the police who did not follow their legal mandated procedure and allow member to peacefully disperse. Instead they used cruel , inhuman and degrading treatment forcing members out of town and using violent means to deprive them of their constitutional right to protest.

Bulawayo members to march 13Feb2015

Zimbabwe joins citizens of the world in commemorating Valentine’s Day, a day to give each other a red rose that represents LOVE. Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members, the majority of them are women and some brave men are still drawing attention to the need for LOVE in Zimbabwe.
The love WOZA members wants is LOVE that brings dignity.
Dignity will help us rebuild our lives and our country.
Dignity also comes from Zimbabweans being able to exercise and enjoy all their rights including the right to earn a living.
This year our theme is – Demanding Dignity – Demanding Women’s Empowerment!
These are the roses we want from our Government!

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members have been conducting Valentine’s Day marches since 2003 demanding LOVE from their Government and asking Zimbabweans to chose LOVE over hate. After 13 years of Valentine’s Day marches, we still need and want the same things.

While we recognise progress it is only words and no deeds to match these high and mighty words.
1. The election promise was one million jobs but lip service was not followed up by the promised jobs. Members continued to try to survive by informal trading.
2. Members thought the ZimAsset would bring jobs, but the document once again lifted our expectations only to crash them down. The very people who wrote the document are ignoring it and enriching themselves.
3. The Constitution has a good complement of the issues we wanted, including the right to earn a living and the right to protest but we are tired of hearing that they are still aligning the laws. Stop making excuses and let us enjoy our Constitution.
4. Even the latest monetary policy is full of promises for empowerment, will these promises be delivered?

WOZA has been busy conducting civic education programmes for members to ready themselves for socio-economic empowerment – we are marching now to say we are ready to receive rapid empowerment.
We have read the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe ‘Chapter 2-National objectives’, sections 13 on National development , 14 on Empowerment and employment and section 15 on Food security and Chapter 4 section 51 – right to human dignity’. We understand that the word ‘Republic’ means –
A political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.

We – the supreme citizens – elected representatives who immediately forgot about us. They squabble amongst themselves occasionally sending nonsensical directives like introducing prepaid water meters and removal of vendors from the streets. Chombo where is the directive to create jobs? Instead you order the City council to chase vendors off the streets. Mr Chombo enough is enough with your nonsense please reread the national objectives and put Zimbabweans – women – first.

Whilst members wait for the promised jobs, they survive on informal trade which is their source of livelihood and disregarding this survival strategy will increase poverty. Members stated that through vending they are able to feed their families, educate their children, clothe them and pay rent for a decent standard of living. The solutions are clear and known – but lack implementation – the root cause of prolific informal trading is lack of employment. Directives issued that only address the effects – informal traders everywhere – will not fix the problem.

As the supreme citizens, we demand our elected leaders convene an urgent country wide consultation to map a collective way forward on how to create one million jobs and revamp the economy putting women and youth at the centre of the economic empowerment action plan.

WOZA members in Bulawayo Water Rights March

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members are to participate in a ‘Right to Water’ civic society organised coalition march at 10am friday 14 november 2014 in Bulawayo. The march will start at the Egodini bus terminus and end at the city Hall. The City Mayor is expected to address participants along with civic society leaders.

The march focus is against the installation of prepaid water meters which Civic Society leaders view as a violation of the international instruments covering the right to water. The march sees the launch of a petition drive for residents of the city to get council to reverse the decision to install prepaid meters.

Bulawayo Residents Right to Water Campaign – SAY NO to Prepaid Water Meters Petition

In late 2013, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) revealed that it would be introducing prepaid water meters as a means of water management in Bulawayo, with the concept set to be piloted in Cowdray Park’s Hlalani Kuhle area. With prepaid water meters, people pay for water up-front before accessing it, in the same manner that they purchase airtime first before being able to make calls. Research by Bulawayo civic society organisations found that prepaid water meters are unworkable in poor communities such as Cowdray Park, and indeed anywhere else in Zimbabwe due to the current economic situation. They would inevitably lead to residents consuming less water than they need for a healthy life, leading to outbreaks of diseases such as cholera. Consultations have also revealed that the majority of residents of Bulawayo are against the move. BPRA in association with several CSOs in Bulawayo is thus carrying out a Right to Water Campaign, which among other things seeks to compel the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to reverse its decision to install prepaid water meters.

• The BCC resolution seems at odds with the new constitutional dispensation which reads – every person has a right to A) safe, clean and potable water B) sufficient food. These two points are interlinked as the one feeds the other and help people survive!
• Pre paid meters will destroy the spirit of “ubuntu” as people will no-longer be free to share water – this is a taboo in our culture.
Sign this petition and JOIN the campaign for the RIGHT TO WATER. Together we can make BULAWAYO CITY COUNCIL (BCC) REVERSE its decision to install prepaid water meters.

CHECK OUT THE MARCH PHOTOS AT facebook.com/woza.zimbabwe

WOZA scores another Supreme Court win

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leaders arrested in April 2010 took a challenge against the state on intolerable conditions they were kept under for 5 days. On 5 June 2014 the judgement was finally delivered by Justice Ziyambi in Harare. The court directed the first (Co-Ministers of Home Affairs) and second respondents (Police Commissioner and Attorney General) to
‘take all necessary steps and measures within their powers to ensure that at Harare Central Police Station
a) All holding cells shall have clean and salubrious flushing toilets with toilet paper and washing bowl.
b) The flushing toilets to be cordoned off from the main cell to ensure privacy.
c) A good standard of hygiene shall be maintained in the holding cells.
d) Every person detained in police custody overnight shall be furnished with a clean mattress and adequate blankets.
e) Adequate bathing facilities shall be provided for all persons detained in police custody overnight.
f) Every person detained shall have access at all times to wholesome drinking water from a source other than the tap above the toilet.
g) Women detained in police custody shall be allowed to keep their undergarments including brassieres, and to wear suitable footwear.
Whilst WOZA members morale is boosted, members will celebrate when these conditions are a lived reality.

WOZA would like to acknowledge the courage of the four members – Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Celina Madukani and Clara Manjengwa for taking this case and remaining committed to defending women’s rights.
WOZA pay tribute to Advocate Lewis Uriri and Dzimbabwe Chimbga and Bellinda Chinowawa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for legal support and for believing that members rights had been violated and seeing the case through over the last 4 years.
Joint Statement ZLHR and WOZA WOZA_ZLHR Joint Press Statement On ConCourt Judgment

Ruling copy Supreme Court ruling on Conditions Case – JLW&Others vs State (note poor copy)

Report on police station inspection and background http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1275

Huge amount of Police deployed fail to stop WOZA members march for love

Anti riot Police deployed here, there and everywhere at street corners, attempt to disturb the Bulawayo Valentine’s Day protest. The police officers actively chased women away from each other as they tried to gather. A further two landrover vehicles with over 10 officers also drove helter skelter jumping from their truck to scatter groups of women. A 8 tonne truck was also stationed in Herbert Chitepo Street with a contingent of officers jumping in and out of the vehicle to scatter women.

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, on foot to participate in the protest were followed by a double cab with 6 officers from the law and order department. These officers took countless pictures and video footage of the 2 leaders as they awaited the 1115am start time at one of the start point. They then followed the protest taking footage of the whole activity.

As Williams and Mahlangu started the protest the 8 tonne truck made a show of trying to bump the activists attempting to open the banner. The drive also kept hooting to try to disturb them. Eventually a sufficient number of members drew close enough so that the protest march could move towards the government complex, Mhlahlandlela. Once the protest started, many police officers were looking down at their shoes, embarrassed at their previous behaviour. The big truck drove away leaving the peaceful protest. Two other protests, one near the High Court and another in Joshua Nkomo Street managed to start and proceed without disturbance. All three protest groups with over 1250 members finally arrived at the government complex.

A police cordon at the entrance of the Mhlahlandlela Government complex blocked the activists from delivering the petition to the Resident minister Eunice Moyo. The protest programme continued. Four leaders, including Williams and Mahlangu made pavement speeches citing the reasons for the protest and made demands for free primary school education delivered by 30 December 2014. As the speeches were about to come to an end, two over 80 year old grandmothers, took the floor to tell the police that ‘they did not want to be herded like cattle as they dispersed’.

After the closing slogan – umkhonto wo thando – Zhii (the love spear rules), Williams and Mahlangu led the crowd in dispersing, toward the nearby bus terminus to catch their commuter buses home. A small delay in the crowd dispersal occurred when two police trucked blocked the road near Ross Camp, the provincial headquarters of the police. This caused the members to have to walk around the trucks to get to commuter ranks.

WOZA leaders decry the waste of resources used to deploy over 150 police officers from early morning, to monitor and disturb peaceful women from handing out roses and constitution pocket books to Bulawayo residents. “There is a severe shortage of police officers to do the work of arresting criminals and investigating looters of public funds. However police officers are never in short supply when there are peaceful women exercising their democratic rights by marching to ask for love or demanding that constitution be activated”. Said WOZA National coordinator Jenni Williams

WOZA Harare members love tokens rebuffed by police beatings

ABOUT 980 Harare members took part in the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Valentine’s Day protest to Parliament in Kwame Nkrumah Street. Marching peacefully in two formations, members were undisturbed and reached parliament to find over 30 Anti Riot Police blocking the entrance to Parliament, signing songs to deliver a message for respect and activation of the constitution.

Members then gathered close and 10 speeches were made outlining the demands on parliament and the situation of women and children in Zimbabwe. WOZA National coordinator and Celina Madukani then went into the august house reception to deliver the petition and roses. However they were informed that the clerk of parliament, and the speaker were in a meeting together and could not be disturbed. The activists realising that this was another delaying tactic decided to leave the petition on the reception table.

These misgivings had proven correct as the anti riot police had begun to disperse and beat the peacefully signing women outside. Over 10 members reported being beaten from behind as they disperse and all had visible swelling and bruising on their upper arms. The beatings were carried out by anti riot officers in black uniforms and it is unclear why their uniform differs from the normal blue uniform.

As part of the protest WOZA members handed our red roses and summary constitution pocket books to bystanders. Unfortunately WOZA did not have many copies and people hung around asking for these and many followed the procession trying to lay their hands on the constitution. The desperation for information evident to all those who were distributing information. WOZA wish to call on parliament and civic society at large to make greater effort to fill this knowledge and information vacuum. Zimbabweans have always shown a hunger for information but they seem to be intentionally disempowered. Zimbabwe seems to have a parliament that neglects awareness raising on the Constitution, a year later no such program has been started. Members of Parliament also seem to ignore the need for such a program during house sessions.

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were followed through the city centre by obviously high ranked suit wearing intelligence officers until they managed to outsmart them and leave the city centre.
see yesterday briefing statement here http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1520

Practice the spirit of Ubuntu for the love of Zimbabwe

WOZA calls on Zimbabweans to practice the spirit of Ubuntu for the love of Zimbabwe
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) will conduct their traditional Valentines Days peaceful protests, handing out red roses and calling on public office bearers to practice the spirit of Ubuntu (I am because we are) and realise that they represent people, and should do by respecting their own and the peoples dignity. This activity comes at a time when the nation is shocked by revelations’ of obscene salaries being earned by office bearers. As this looting continues unchecked, the economy crumbles.

The anniversary of the referendum soon approaches on 16 March 2014 but very little has been done to harmonise laws so that the full richness of the constitution can provide much needed dignity to citizens and empower them with ways to check theft of public finance, corruption and to recall representatives who have been missing from their constituencies since the July 2013 election.

Valentine’s Day also comes at a time when the promise of free primary education a foundation of the liberation war and a clause in the constitution declaration of rights is in disarray. School levies have skyrocketed and corruption in schools has now reached unacceptable levels. Members of WOZA report that more children are being chased away from school. The Basic education Assistance Module, (BEAM) has been bankrupted and has been discontinued, when just one month’s salary of former CEO of the Premier Services Medical Aid could have paid fees for hundreds vulnerable children. During the peaceful marches WOZA will be exposing these injustices and demanding the urgent activation of the constitution, with the delivery of primary schooling as a priority to be met by 30 December 2014.

WOZA also support the joint position of civic society regarding the need for more transparency and accountability by public officials. The statement by CSOs calls for the government to take urgent action to restore sanity by “instituting a commission of enquiry tasked with further investigating the obscene salary saga, ‘tenderpreneurship’ and any other underhand dealings taking place in the public sector”. The statement also calls for the dismissing all those found to be on the wrong side of the law. WOZA along with CSOs also expects the dismissing all board members implicated, naming and shaming them and also calling on them to right the wrong by paying back the money or donating to BEAM.

WOZA ask members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to respect the right to protest and petition contained in the constitution and ask them not to trample upon the roses of love. Valentines Woza Moya 2014

Harare members petition parliament

EIGHT hundred members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) began two separate peaceful protests at 2pm on Monday 2 December 2013. Their objective to march to parliament and hand over a petition. The petition being a research report produced under the 16 days of activism against gender based violence – Zimbabweans beat the drum of peace and development to break the silence on violence.

Both protests began without incident and converged on the Kwame Nkrumah entrance of parliament at 2:15pm. WOZA national coordinator began to negotiate for someone to officially receive the petition. A female officer was assisting and asked Williams to please request silence from the singing members. Members then observed non violent discipline and sat down on the hot tarmac with the blazing sun on their heads.

Seconds dragged to many minutes and it became apparent the clerk of parliament would not attend to receive the petition. Police officers, schooled in the culture of harassment continued to attempt to disperse the protesters and tried to scatter members by attempting to drive their truck into the crowd. Despite this obvious attempt to curb the right to protest, WOZA members remained resolute and started to sing a shone song saying – we also have rights!

After a 30 minutes wait, Williams was directed to the counsel to parliament, Ms Gladys Pise who received the petition and provided proof.

WOZA national coordinator, Jenni Williams then addressed members informing them that the petition had been delivered and asked members to go peacefully home and await a formal response from parliament. WOZA members then formally left parliament with the police officers still obviously restraining themselves in frustration at the new constitution clauses on respect for the right to petition.

WOZA express dismay that the police in Bulawayo seem to have not had the same training on the new ‘right to petition’ as the Harare police officers seem to have had. Once again the Bulawayo police officers have shown that there is selective harshness in responding to protests in Bulawayo. WOZA members are still shocked that Bulawayo police bosses ordered the deployment of police dogs to run the peacefully protesting members out of town. WOZA expects to take legal action against the police for wrongful arrest and for curtailing the right to protest and use of maximum force against members.

Members throng the goverment complex in Bulawayo – beaten and dogs deployed

AT 1030am 29 November 2013, one thousand members started 11 separate processions so that they could march to Bulawayo Mhlahlandlela Government complex to hand over a petition to the resident minister Eunice Moyo covering WOZA demands. The petition was successfully handed over to her office but pandemonium prevailed as police disturbed a peaceful protest.

The city had riot or reaction police on most street corners to prevent the start of any protests. Two out of eleven protests arrived at the entrance of Mhlahlandlela without incident but the other eight protest groups were set upon by reaction groups’ police who beat members with baton sticks. One protest was stopped and seated in the tarmac by 16 police officers and when there was not clear instruction as to if they were under arrest, member left and continued their peaceful march.

Two members have been treated for dislocated knee and grazed elbow from baton stick injuries. Over 50 other members report baton stick injuries but were treated with painkillers.

Hundreds of members managed to re- group and made their way to Mhlahlandlela determined to petition as is their right under the constitution.

One single police truck seemed to constantly pick up arrested members who were then released and others arrested making the number of arrested hard to estimate.

WOZA national coordinator, Jenni Williams who had delivered the petition to the minister’s office, then called members to regroup at the complex entrance and told members that the petition had been delivered and signed for and she then signaled that members should peacefully disperse in procession to the nearby bus terminal. After this address, Williams and Mahlangu lead members away but new group of police officers arrived with batons sticks and shields and stopped the dispersal. Police officers surrounded Williams and Mahlangu with huge shields pressed against their bodies and forced them into the police Drill hall opposite the government complex. These officers beat any members who attempted to walk in with the 2 leaders but 3 members managed to accompany their leaders.

As the leaders were being led away, police officers started to drive the hundreds of members enraged at the arrest of their leaders away from the complex down the street in the direction of the Batch Street. After several surges to come back to the Complex failed and the group was chased by police officers with dogs. The dogs were held on the leashes but the officers kept threatening to unleash them, these officers and their police dogs drove the crowd at a run for 5 kilometers towards the Mpopoma fly over. Some members were driven into the bush on either side of the roads in the Thorngrove suburb adjoining the light industrial area. These officers also said they did not want members to board commuter omnibuses, but chased them out of town saying they would regroup and resume the march. Police officers quickly manned road blocks on the Khami road to prevent the return by commuter of the members they had chased with their dogs. The Reaction Group officer in charge based at Drill Hall Inspector Mzombi issued the orders for beating and arrests and generally disrupted the peaceful protest and curtailed the right to protest now protected under the new constitution.

Police officers who remained at Mhlahlandlela chased away any woman in the vicinity, members or non- members of the Mhlahlandlela complex was then chased away but men were allowed to continue with their business undisturbed by the gender discrimination.

Meanwhile WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu were held for 3 hours without any explanation at the Drill Hall until they were driven to the Bulawayo Central police station and united with 12 other members who had been arrested. They remained there for another hour before Chief Inspector Musvuti the officer commanding Bulawayo released them. He flippantly advised Williams and Mahlangu and the 12 members that there was no problem and that they were free to leave. He said he did not know why they had been arrested. He offered not explanation about the violence and brutal manner in which the right to protest had been curtailed. See the Woza Moya Newsletter distributed Woza Moya November 2013