All posts by Jenni

300 march to parly handover petitions

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) 300 member’s representatives delivered 101 000 ‘anti abuse of power’ petition signatures, red cards and symbolic ‘Coffins’  to Parliament for onward submission to the Anti Corruption and Monopolies Committee on Wednesday 24 August 2011. Riot Police made a police line and refused to allow anyone to cross. The coffin carrying protest group 50 meters from reaching the door of parliament. Some leaders managed to cross the police line with the red cards and box of petitions but the Coffin ‘pall bearers’  were stopped by the police officers who then ‘arrested’ the coffins.

A Riot Police officer was overheard making a call to his superior from his mobile phone.  Obviously speaking to a secretary, he said – “Tell the boss I have WOZA here what should I do. Its urgent, the first group has arrived and there are many. “Getting no immediate solace, he had to keep insisting on the urgency and eventually was given some response and hung up the phone putting it his pocket and just moving to stand with others. A plain clothed intelligence agent was then heard calling his superior and confirming the orders ‘leave them alone and let them do what they want.”  A 30 minute stand-off ensued whilst the activists used alternative routes to deliver the petitions.

During this time a huge group of passers-by gathered to read the flyers; watch the drama unfolding, and to comment on the Electricity issue.  Members sang Shona language songs, calling for removal al of the ZESA monopoly.  When the riot police became aggressive, they switched to song, Udzvanyiriri ndiwo unei (so what is this oppression all about) and ‘munu wese ane kodzero’ (everyone has rights, even police officers). Various members took the opportunity to address the gathering and bemoaned the challenges of continual power cuts and the need to spend money on alternative means light and fuel to cook food.

A police van approached driving at speed towards the procession causing the peaceful activists to scatter. The police officers then took the change to push their line with reinforcements and order the members to disperse.

Members had mandated their leaders to deliver the petitions calling for the Electricity monopoly to end.  This is part of the WOZA anti Abuse of power campaign which has so far involved delivery of ‘yellow cards’ and now ‘red cards’ to suburban and central officers of the power utility. WOZA are pressurising the parliamentary committee as they have already conducted many public hearings but are yet to take action. ZESA has also recently threatened to raise rates. Member with a fixed system of Electricity which works on fixed amps, are given a fixed charge which does not cater for the power cuts. Members also feel that they could be better off with prepaid meters than paying a full bill for a part service.

These 101 000 petition signature sheets were what remained after police raided the WOZA office on after the 10 June raid and removed sheets of signatures. An initial count with was in progress when they raided revealed that at least one million signatures had been received.

On Monday 22 August 13 members were indiscriminately arrested in Bulawayo but released within a few hours. Police officers in Harare did not disturb the peace but violated our right to reach our parliament and to hand over our petitions.

Officials from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Holdings have since called WOZA National Coordinator Jenni Williams to arrange a meeting to discuss members concerns.

At 2:15pm 25 Aug 2011, 30 members went to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) offices in Avondale Harare to hand over a second further letter of complaint. Jomic is responsible for the monitoring and implementation of the Global Political Agreement. WOZA have complained of police harassment and the visit yesterday was to pressure Jomic to respond to previous letters of complaint about the 10 June 2011 raid of WOZA offices by Zimbabwe Republic Police. The members,  found that the receptionist and serious officials were still away on the lunch break and had to hand over their letter to a junior officer. The spent 15 minutes singing and awaiting senior officers to no avail. WOZA Leaders, Williams and Mahlangu threatened to come back with a larger group if Jomic did not correspond and take their complaints seriously.

Court victory for 8 as Trial begins for another 6

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’.

Heavy police presence in Bulawayo ignored as hundreds march but 20 members arrested

Twenty members have been arrested in Bulawayo around noon on 22 August 2011. These arrests followed protests to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Company over poor service. Five hundred members, in four separate protests managed to converge on the Power station to deliver 63 000 signatures that remained after police seized the million signatures on the ‘anti abuse of power’ petition signatures. As they marched they distributed flyers. They also delivered ‘red cards’ and 4 mock coffins symbolising the need for ‘parliament to bury ZESA’ or remove the monopoly.

Town looked perfectly normal until 11:30 am when large contingent of police were deployed. Over one hundred police officers, many in full Riot police gear conducted arbitrary ‘stop and search’ of anyone walking. Other officers stopped every commuter omnibuses enroute into the CDB and searched handbags and people’s pockets. The police officers told some members that they were looking for WOZA material.

Plain clothed Criminal Investigating Officers were also present in their large numbers in the vicinity of the protest. This dragnet resulted in 10 members from one area were arrested as they waited for their demonstration to start. Due to heavy presence of police around town, two of the four processions had to relocate members to their plan B beginning points. These last minute changes resulted in some members being too frightened to March or getting lost in the relocation.

As the three protests arrived at the Power stations officers, they dropped off the coffin and red cards and the petitions before dispersing. The fourth protest arrived as the ZESA office staff, were taking in the petitions and coffin, as the peaceful activists arrived carrying the 4th coffin, the staff actually thanked them for the coffin and took it into the office. Passersby commended the activists for dealing ‘with ZESA’ and said at least the police ‘allowed’ them time to dance at the ZESA office.

After the protests two more groups, bringing the number of arrests to 20, with at least two members being handcuffed. Lawyers have been deployed.

WOZA national coordinator, Jenni Williams who participated in the procession issued this comment: ‘I wish to pay tribute to WOZA members for showing determination to deliver a strong telling off to ZESA despite being searched and intimidated’. With the huge presence of police, who were thoroughly searching each person, I did not expect any procession to get started, but members strategised. They sneaked into town all their reds cards, flyers, petitions with 63 000 signatures on petitions, 4 huge cardboard Coffins and placards and managed to march and deliver their message.

WOZA would also like to thank members of the public for saving at least 5 members from arrest by plain clothed police officers by tipping them off that the officers were talking about arresting them. A similar protest on 10 May 2011, to the power station resulted in over 50 members being beaten.

Members of WOZA and MOZA did research on 1434 households last year and found that:
1. The average home spends 101 hours per month without ELECTRICITY that is over 15% of the hours in one month. This year power cuts have doubled.
2. Most people spend 3/4 of the cost of the ZESA bill buying alternative fuel so they can cook food!
3. More than 50% of homes pay a fixed charge, if they don’t pay they are cut off, they don’t get any discount for power cuts and are charged interest on back bills and estimate bills.
4. Of the 1434 homes, only 42 homes had prepaid meters. These are some of the reasons WOZA are giving ZESA a red card – they are a danger to our pockets and they don’t have customer care or improve their service. Millions of Zimbabweans are being robbed. ZESA is abusing POWER and parliament must remove the power monopoly. WOZA members want prepaid meters and affordable, fair electricity service, with actual bills and proper load shedding timetables.

100 WOZA members arrested for demanding power for the people

Eight protests took place at Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) offices across Bulawayo this morning, demanding ‘power to the people’. Approximately 100 WOZA members have been arrested so far.

At 8 am this morning, WOZA members assembled at eight different ZESA offices – Pumula, Mpopoma, Entumbane, Tshabalala, Magwegwe, Nkulumane, Nketa 6 and Luveve – holding simultaneous ‘tough love’ protests. Over 500 members from 16 different areas of Bulawayo took part in the community-level protests.

The protests at Magwegwe, Entumbane, Nketa 6 and Mpopoma took place without incident and the participants were able to disperse before police arrived. At Pumula, approximately 70 members as they were dispersing (the police station is next door to the ZESA office.) They were taken to Pumula Police Station before being transferred to Bulawayo Central Station.

At Luveve, members had protested and were beginning to disperse when police arrested people some distance away from the ZESA office, as they were catching transport back to their homes. Approximately 20 people are being held at Luveve Police Station.

At Nkulumane, nine people were arrested at the ZESA offices and are being held at Tshabalala Police station. Lawyers have been called and are trying to get access to those arrested.

The protests signify the launch of the ‘power to the people’ by March 2008 campaign. Today’s protests began with members queuing up as the offices made to open. They then marched in and handed over protest notes and either sat or stood inside and outside the offices until addressed.

In Luveve and Entumbane, officials attempted to divert the protesters by saying someone was coming to address them whilst making hasty calls to the police station. In Nkulumane, nine members were loaded into a cream Nissan pick-up, registration 846-101 Z by plain-clothed officers.

In all the areas the protest notes and placards were delivered to the local ZESA offices but officials told the peaceful protesters to go and protest at the town office, as there were no officials with authority to address them present. As members dispersed security guards were seen collecting up the protest notes and placards.

The contact numbers for the police stations are below. Please call and ask why innocent men and women are being arrested for addressing legitimate consumer complaints to their service provider, ZESA.

Bulawayo Central on +263 9 72515
Luveve +263 9 520801/2/3
Tshabalala +263 9 496755

Woza Moya April 2007

A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Women are like teabags. We don’t know how strong we are until we are in hot water.” Amai Eleanor Roosevelt vanoti,” Madzimai ndivo masamba. Hatizivi kusimba kwavo kusvika vaiswa mumvura inopisa.” UEleanor Roosevelt wathi, “Omama banjengamahlamvu etiye. Abazi ukuqina kwabo baze babesemanzini abilayo.”

POWER TO THE PEOPLE BY MARCH 2008
AMANDLA EBANTWINI NGOMBIMBITHO 2008
SIMBA KUVANHU MUNAKURUME 2008

An open letter to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
Sometimes Available (ZESA)

We, the consumers of electricity, wish to advise you that your service is no longer empowering us but is draining our pockets. We are suffering under load shedding but are being forced to pay high rates. Some of us are being asked to fork out millions for metres. We are also losing our electrical appliances because of your unstable voltage.

Whilst we hear that ZESA is also a victim of the bad and mismanaged economy we hear that ZESA itself is also being mismanaged and there is widespread corruption. Some of your bosses do not pay these high rates, resources are being looted and no one is held accountable.

You were singing ZESA has come with the power – ‘ZESA yawuya nePower’ – saka ZESA yazoyenda nePower yacho? ‘IZESA isibuye lamandla kagetsi’ – pho aseyengaphi lawo mandla? We demand POWER to the people for real!

WE CAN NO LONGER AFFORD TO PAY DUE TO THE HIGH COST OF LIVING AND WE DO NOT LIKE LIVING IN DARKNESS.

We demand to be treated with respect as your customers and demand the following:

1. Stop turning a blind eye to corruption in your company and deal with the criminals.
2. Make sure all those who are getting free electricity, including Government departments pay the same high rates as we are paying.
3. Do something effective to control your voltage; we cannot afford to replace our electrical property.
4. You have also dis-empowered our children who cannot study at night! You have killed our appliances! You have disrespected your customers. We demand that you find us cheaper firewood, candles and matches as we cannot afford to pay $5000 for one candle and $1000 for a box of matches. You are the ones who are not giving us POWER so you should pay for us to have candlelight.
5. WE DEMAND POWER TO THE PEOPLE by March 2008.

Yours, Mothers who are deeply saddened

AMANDLA EBANTWINI NGOMBIMBITHO 2008

Thina, abasebenzisi bamagetsi sifisa ukulazisa ukuthi ukwenza kwenu akusisuthisi kodwa kusidla izikhwama zethu. Sithwele nzima ngokuchitshwa kwamagetsi (load shedding) kodwa sibadala imali ephezulu. Abanye bethu bakhitshiswa inkalakatha zemali (amamillion) amameter. Impahla zethu ezisebenza ngegetsi ziyafa ngenxa yokuhamba kwamagetsi okungapheliyo.

Siyakuzwisisa ukuthi iZESA layo ithwele nzima ngenxa yomnotho omi kubi ngokutshaphazwa kwezomnotho, kodwa sidaniswa yikuthi kuleziphathamandla zenkampani ezitshaphaza impahla zingagqize qhakala.

Lalihlabela lisithi, ‘Zesa yawuya nePOWER’ saka ZESA yazoyenda nePOWER yacho? IZESA isibuye lamandla kagetsi’ pho asiyengaphi lawomandla? Sifuna amandla ebantwini ngeqiniso!

ASISENELISI UKUBHADALA NGENXA YOKUDULA KWEMPILO NJALO ASITHANDI UKUHLALA EBUNYAMENI .

Sifuna ukuhlonitshwa njengabasebenzisi bamagetsi ngakho sithi sifuna okulandelayo:
1. Yekelani ukwenza angathi aliboni ubudlwangudlwangu obuse kampanini lijezise izigangi zenu.
2. Libeleqiniso ukuthi bonke labo abathola Amandla kungela mbadalo kanye labakaHulumende bhadala okufana lathi.
3. Zamani icebo elingamisa ukuhamba kwamandla, Ngoba asenelisi ukuphinda sithenge ezinye impahla zamagetsi.
4. Seliphinde lathathela abantwana bethu amandla, Ngoba abasenelesi ukubala ebusuku. Selibulele impahla yethu! Lehluleke ukuhlonipha amacustomer enu. Sifuna lisidingele inkuni, amakhandlela lomentshisi, njengoba singenelisi ukuthenga ikhandlela $5000, umentshisi nge $1000. Yini elingasipha amandla Ngakho kumele lisibhadalele ukukhanyiselwa yisibane.
5. SIFUNA AMANDLA EBANTWINI NGOMBIMBITHO 2008.

Yithi, OMAMA BENU ABALOKUDANA OKUKHULU

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SIMBA KUVANHU MUNAKURUME 2008

Isu vashandisi vemagetsi tinoda kukuzivisayi kuti rubatsiro rwenyu harusina rubatsiro asikuti murikutotipedzera mari dzedu. Tirikutambudzika nekudzimwa kwemagetsi nguva nenguva asi murikutimanikidza kubhadara mari yakawanda. Vamwe tirikuto budisa makunun’nu emari kumameter. Uyezvetirikushaiwa magetsi pamusana pemichina yenyu isingashandi.

Tinonzwisisa kuti ZESA nayo inedambudziko remari pamusana pekutambiswa kwezvehupfumi. Tine kusuwa kukuru kuvakuruvakuru veZESA vanochambadza midziyo yekambani vasineyi nazvo.

Mayiyimba muchiti, ‘‘Zesa yawuya nePOWER’ saka ZESA yazoyenda nePOWER yacho? IZESA isibuye lamandla kagetsi’ pho asiyengaphi lawomandla? Tirikutoda simba kuvanhu zvechokwadi!

HATICHAKWANISI KUBHADARA MARI IDZI UYEZVE HATIFARIRE KUGARA MUCHIDIMA.

Tinoda kuremekedzwa sevashandisi vemagetsi uye tinoda izvirikutevera:
1. Regedzayi kutarisira kungemusingawoni hukororo kurimukambani muwone zvekuyita negororo.
2. Itai kuti vese varikuwana magetsi pasina mari yavanobhadara vanoverengera veHurumende vabhadare mari yakafanana neyatiri kubhadarawo.
3. Tsvagayi zvekuyita panyaya yekudzima kwemagetsi; nekuti hatizokwanisi kugadzirisa midziyo yedu inoshanda nemagetsi.
4. Matokanganisa vanavedu vasingachakwanise kuverenga husiku! Uyezve matowuraya midziyo yedu! Matadza kunyara macustomer enyu. Tinoda mutitsvagire huni dzakachipa, maKenduru nemechisi sezvo tisingakwanisi kutenga kenduru re$5000 nemechisi we$1000. Ndimi murikutinyima simba saka tipeyi chibani.
5. TINODA SIMBA KUVANHU MUNA KURUME 2008.

Tisu, VANAMAI VENYU VANEKUSUWA KUKURU

Police raid, invade WOZA members private meeting place

AT ELEVEN am on 10th June 2011, seven or eight men who identified themselves as police officers arrived at the gate of a venue WOZA members use for their internal meetings. They did not produce any search warrant and were extremely aggressive. A lawyer for Human Rights was immediately asked to attend the scene to demand any search warrant and observe the processes police would undertake.

Two of the Police officers noticed at the gate were notorious perpetrators of torture George Levison Ngwenya and Moyo from Law and Order department of Bulawayo Central Police Station. WOZA members present resolved to exit through the backyard and moments after Riot police arrived and police forced the motorised gate open and gained entry.

Shortly after this a tenant who is not a member of WOZA arrived and was immediately beaten by police who demanded to know where the occupants were. The lawyers, Kossam Ncube and Nosimilo Chanayiwa from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had arrived outside the gate but were threatened with extreme violence by police and ordered to leave.

Since Friday police officers have invaded the property and over the weekend armed guards were observed taking in the winter sun in the yard.

Later that afternoon, the lawyer, Mr Ncube, visited the offices of the Law and Order Department to seek clarification about the ‘invasion’; he was refused clarification and told to present Jennifer Williams and the owner of the house to explain what the house was being used for.

Two privately owned vehicles are also within the yard but in this climate of lawlessness, the owners would risk arrest if they went to get their cars. 

Since the beginning of the year, 38 WOZA members have been arbitrarily arrested and 24 detained and charged under the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act. Threats were made that upon the eventual arrest of Williams and Mahlangu, they would be denied bail and imprisoned in the male prison.  This police harassment of WOZA Human rights Defenders provides leaders of the South African Development Community (SADC) with direct proof of the intransigence of the Mugabe regime and their refusal to respect the Global Political Agreement (GPA) of which they are guarantors.  This proves there is no political will to implement respect for freedoms of assembly and expression and end harassment of human rights defenders. The practice of persecution and punishment by arrest, detention and prosecution in the absence of any genuine suspicion of criminal activity needs urgent addressing through security sector reform.

Their targeting of WOZA in this way shows their inability to deliver a new Zimbabwe where people can live a dignified life, free to express their views. It is because of this that the nonviolent social justice movement remains fast expanding and has capacity to mobilise Zimbabweans to demand full enjoyment of all their rights. 

It  is our view that that the raiding of our members’ private meeting place means the regime has made the last leap from its ‘pretended democracy’ and respect for the rule of law into the dark abyss of authoritarianism and militarisation.” 

WOZA call on SADC to immediately enforce implementation of the GPA and protect Zimbabweans from this violent state and bring perpetrators to book.
WOZA call on the Joint Operation Monitoring Implementation Committee (JOMIC) to investigate this illegal raid and force the police to leave our premises forthwith.
WOZA call on Police Commissioner Chihuri to order his officers to cease occupation of our premises with immediate effect and return intact any possessions taken. And to publicly apologise to WOZA.
WOZA call on all police officers to refuse to be used to carry out illegal acts in the name of political supremacy, we call on their family members to prevail upon them to think carefully about their future and personal sanity. There will be a time for their action to be judged if not on this earth then in heaven.
WOZA call on local, regional and international human rights defenders to directly lobby their presidents or prime ministers to put pressure through diplomatic means to stop persecution of human rights defenders and especially women human rights defenders. Special emphasis should be on their rights to peacefully hold their own government to account by direct or indirect street engagement.
WOZA call on Zimbabweans to mobilise themselves to nonviolently demand respect for people will before it is too late. Your mothers need your help.
WOZA as a direct action nonviolent movement, mother of the nation will take action, we will not be silenced.

Police raid, take over WOZA members private meeting place

AT ELEVEN am on 10th June 2011, seven or eight men who identified themselves as police officers arrived at the gate of a venue WOZA members use for their internal meetings. They did not produce any search warrant and were extremely aggressive. A lawyer for Human Rights was immediately asked to attend the scene to demand any search warrant and observe the processes police would undertake.

Two of the Police officers noticed at the gate were notorious perpetrators of torture George Levison Ngwenya and Moyo from Law and Order department of Bulawayo Central Police Station. WOZA members present resolved to exit through the backyard and moments after Riot police arrived and police forced the motorised gate open and gained entry.

Shortly after this a tenant who is not a member of WOZA arrived and was immediately beaten by police who demanded to know where the occupants were. The lawyers, Kossam Ncube and Nosimilo Chanayiwa from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had arrived outside the gate but were threatened with extreme violence by police and ordered to leave.

Since Friday police officers have invaded the property and over the weekend armed guards were observed taking in the winter sun in the yard.

Later that afternoon, the lawyer, Mr Ncube, visited the offices of the Law and Order Department to seek clarification about the ‘invasion’; he was refused clarification and told to present Jennifer Williams and the owner of the house to explain what the house was being used for.

Two privately owned vehicles are also within the yard but in this climate of lawlessness, the owners would risk arrest if they went to get their cars.

Since the beginning of the year, 38 WOZA members have been arbitrarily arrested and 24 detained and charged under the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act. Threats were made that upon the eventual arrest of Williams and Mahlangu, they would be denied bail and imprisoned in the male prison.  This police harassment of WOZA Human rights Defenders provides leaders of the South African Development Community (SADC) with direct proof of the intransigence of the Mugabe regime and their refusal to respect the Global Political Agreement (GPA) of which they are guarantors.  This proves there is no political will to implement respect for freedoms of assembly and expression and end harassment of human rights defenders. The practice of persecution and punishment by arrest, detention and prosecution in the absence of any genuine suspicion of criminal activity needs urgent addressing through security sector reform.

Their targeting of WOZA in this way shows their inability to deliver a new Zimbabwe where people can live a dignified life, free to express their views. It is because of this that the nonviolent social justice movement remains fast expanding and has capacity to mobilise Zimbabweans to demand full enjoyment of all their rights.

It  is our view that that the raiding of our members’ private meeting place means the regime has made the last leap from its ‘pretended democracy’ and respect for the rule of law into the dark abyss of authoritarianism and militarisation.”

WOZA call on SADC to immediately enforce implementation of the GPA and protect Zimbabweans from this violent state and bring perpetrators to book.
WOZA call on the Joint Operation Monitoring Implementation Committee (JOMIC) to investigate this illegal raid and force the police to leave our premises forthwith.
WOZA call on Police Commissioner Chihuri to order his officers to cease occupation of our premises with immediate effect and return intact any possessions taken. And to publicly apologise to WOZA.
WOZA call on all police officers to refuse to be used to carry out illegal acts in the name of political supremacy, we call on their family members to prevail upon them to think carefully about their future and personal sanity. There will be a time for their action to be judged if not on this earth then in heaven.
WOZA call on local, regional and international human rights defenders to directly lobby their presidents or prime ministers to put pressure through diplomatic means to stop persecution of human rights defenders and especially women human rights defenders. Special emphasis should be on their rights to peacefully hold their own government to account by direct or indirect street engagement.
WOZA call on Zimbabweans to mobilise themselves to nonviolently demand respect for people will before it is too late. Your mothers need your help.
WOZA as a direct action nonviolent movement, mother of the nation will take action, we will not be silenced.

Police arrest a hostage – son of a member 18 year old Professor Nkala

SIX women arrested on Wednesday 18 May 2011 were finally located by lawyers who had to search go door to door at suburban police stations. They located them at 3 police stations, Sauerstown, Hillside and Donnington, split up in twos. The six are Teresia Phiri 45yrs, Janet Dube 45 yrs, Juliet Nyathi 29 yrs, Thobekile  Ncube 37 yrs, Sibekezele Nkomo 30 yrs, and Loyce Ndlovu whose age is yet to be determined. They had not eaten for 24hours as a result of being hidden away from lawyers and relatives.

Two of the women had been beaten upon arrest and had been prodded with a charged pistol until reaching the police station, 2km away from the arrest point. When arriving at Western Commonage police station, police officers compared their names to their ‘list’ of WOZA activists. They were then taken to Bulawayo Central where they were split up to the suburb stations.

WOZA has been aware that members of the ruling Zanu PF party were being asked to get the names of WOZA activists and give the names to the police. As political debate rages on about election dates and Zanu PF activists enjoy the freedom to move about forcing people to sign their anti sanctions petition, the politicised police force has been ordered to increase repression on human rights defenders. It is sad to note that the affordable electricity WOZA Defenders are campaigning will have more direct impact on ordinary people than the anti-sanctions petition of Zanu PF.

At 10 am this morning a police vehicle was seen in Iminyela suburb with Thobekile and Janet on board and they went to 3 homes trying to secure the arrest of further members. Finding the women not at home, CID law and Order Detective Assistant Inspector Chikango then arbitrarily arrested a hostage – 18 year old Professor Nkala, leaving a note for his mother Mavis Sibanda to attend the Law and Order Department of Bulawayo Central. Please call DAI Chikango Law on +263 9 72515

Arrests and Torture in Bulawayo

Update 1 March 2011 – number of arrested rises to 21 The seven members arrested remain in custody and finally managed to receive a meal at lunchtime today. All seven will spend a second night in custody.

The Mabutweni 4, three ladies and one man, were seen by relatives at lunchtime and were walking uncomfortable. They made a sign that they had been beaten under the soles of their feet. This is Falanga, a form of torture.  These four complained that there was no water at Sauerstown police station. They have now been moved to central police station and as the relocation was conducted over feeding time, police refused to allow them to get their meal late.

Moreblessing, the nursing mother continues to be denied access to her baby. Attempts by the lawyer to see his clients failed and when he pushed the Investigating officer Z. Moyo to discuss charges he was told to relax ‘we have finished arresting people yet’.

Another 14 people, 4 members and 10 non-members were meeting in Mabutweni to contribute their $1 burial society fee; police swooped and arrested them all. The 14, all women are not accounted for at this time, the hunt for them at different police stations continues. There is not food given to prisoners at police stations so if relatives fail to bring in food, they starve.

Police officers, some in full Riot gear visited the homes of another 6 members but they were not home.
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28 February 2011 press statement Seven members, two beaten, all spending night in custody in Bulawayo and were denied food brought in by relatives.

At noon, today 28 February 2011, three Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) members were arrested in Entumbane at a member’s house. Police came into the house where the members were meeting. They made the men present; numbering about 15, hold out their hands. They then arrested Proud Pandeya, Noah Mapfuma who they said had black hands, and according to them this is a sure sign that they smoke cannabis. At this point Gift Nkomo walked in and was also subsequently arrested. They were taken by these plain-clothes police officers to their local police station. One of the police officers fisted Proud four times in the face when they were arrested. They were released them after 2 hours. At five pm, police officers then came to re-arrest them and tried to arrest a fourth member who was not at home. The were said to be being taken to Bulawayo Central Police station for questioning but the feeding team could not locate them there.

At 4pm today, another 4 members were arrested, three women and one male.  They were arrested in the Mabutweni suburb of Bulawayo at the home of  Sitshiyiwe Ngwenya. They were sitting in the house and counting burial society contributions. The four who include Joyce Ndebele, Moreblessing Dube, one a nursing mother, and the male member Kholwani Ndlovu were arrested by plain clothed police officers from Western Commonage police station. They were loaded into a white van and taken to Western Commonage police station in Mpopoma south. The lawyer, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights was unable to see them as they were being relocated to Bulawayo Central police station.

Relatives, who sacrificed to buy food at a food outlet, as there was no electricity to cook food, arrived at the police station to give the food to the activists but were detained for an hour. Police Officer George Levison Ngwenya, threatened to arrest them for bringing ‘bought’ food but another police officer told them to leave with the food. Kholwani was obviously in pain from being severely beaten and him and the three women arrested at Mabutweni were seen by their relatives in the Law and Order department and were being made to answer profile questions and were due to be relocated for a third time to Sauerstown police station along the airport road.

WOZA leaders wish to express concern for members arrested and for the two male members beaten by police. We also express concern about the whereabouts of the 3 members arrested in Entumbane who were not to be found at Bulawayo Central police station.

WOZA is currently consulting members on the introduction of a development programme to be entitled Demand Dignity – Demand Development. This programme is based on the works of Mahatma Ghandi who combined an obstructive and constructive programme to mobilise independence to the Indian people. The CONSTRUCTIVE (productive and practical) Program emphasises on “cooperating with good” whiles the OBSTRUCTIVE (disruptive and defiant) Program’s emphasis is on “resisting evil.”

About the Demand Dignity – Demand Development Programme History have shown us that while nonviolent movements have successfully liberated people from repressive regimes in almost all cases the same problems of poverty and other forms of structural violence have returned to undermine the gains of the struggle. This is not because Nonviolence doesn’t “work” but because Nonviolence campaigns or obstructive campaigns need to have a Constructive Program to make them complete and deliver permanent, constructive change.

So WOZA/MOZA have resolved to begin a Constructive Program for members so that they can see positive alternatives to oppression, let them begin to act out the future, become productive and practical. As we do this we will also escalate our demand for social justice. WOZA and MOZA have been conducting some of these activities as part of our fight for freedom and our demand for social justice, a new constitution and a better life – we have been trying to see the Zimbabwe of our dreams.

WOZA and MOZA commemorate International Women Human Rights Defenders Day with march in Bulawayo

WOZA members marching in Bulawayo with their demands for new constitution

WOZA members marching in Bulawayo with their demands for new constitution

At noon today, approximately 900 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise marked International Women Human Rights Defenders Day with a peaceful procession to the offices of the state-owned Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo. No arrests have been reported as yet but as there is a visible police presence in central Bulawayo, this may change.

Jenni Williams, WOZA’s National Coordinator was briefly detained by a senior-ranking police officer during the march but was later released after a discussion about its legality. Williams insisted that Zimbabweans have the right to peaceful protest under the current constitution. Williams was also roughly jostled by the female officer during this exchange, resulting in the aggravation of an existing back condition that Williams has.

The aim of the peaceful procession was to launch WOZA’s consulted position on the COPAC constitution questions. The report is entitled ‘the rising of women means the rising of the nation – no more poverty and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit’. A copy of the report is available below.

Five groups started from different locations in the city centre and converged on the offices of the Chronicle. The peaceful group sang as they marched and handed out copies of their views on the constitutional questions. Their songs included the lyrics, “there is an issue that we want to make public – our views on the constitution” and “as women we must rise up and stand firm for our views so that our country can improve”.

WOZA began a 15-month civic education process around the constitution in July 2009 involving the participation of 9,036 members (7,885 females and 1,151 males) in a phased training programme that culminated in a consultation around the COPAC questions, the responses to which have been included in the report. Participants were drawn from 37 urban areas in Bulawayo and Harare and 23 rural areas in Matabeleland and Mashonaland. The age range of these participants was 14 to 93 years.

The report has been formally submitted to COPAC. The procession today is the first in a series of peaceful marches designed to ensure the views of members are heard, respected and will be included in the draft constitution. Members selected The Chronicle offices as a target in their fight to pressure for free media and to express solidarity with the arrest and extended detention of Nqobani Ndlovu, a Bulawayo-based journalist.

29 November is a significant date for WOZA. It is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day and part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. Furthermore, on 29 November 2006, hundreds of members were brutally beaten in Bulawayo and many arrested whilst peacefully launching the WOZA People’s Charter.

Whilst recognising the importance of the 16 Days of Activism, WOZA would like to insist that 365 days of the year be considered days of activism against gender violence. At no time, is violence against any individual acceptable.

This protest follows a victory for WOZA in the Supreme Court last week.  On Friday 26th, Justice Garwe, the Supreme Court judge of appeals, handed down a ruling on the 2008 challenge taken by WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. The verbal ruling granted that the two women had been wrongfully arrested and detained and, as a result, had their rights and fundamental freedoms violated. Justice Garwe also ruled that the state had failed to protect the activists from this abuse. The application for a repealing of section 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was dismissed and the reason will be made available. More details are available below.

To read a full copy of the report submitted to COPAC, please click here: WOZA presentation to COPAC 29.11.10