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WOZA and MOZA unite in prayer for peace and declare a victory for love and non-violence

Five hundred members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) conducted a prayer vigil at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Bulawayo on Saturday 31 March 2007. Although there was a heavy police presence there were no arrests.

The activists gathered to pray for peace in Zimbabwe. This day was chosen to commemorate the night of the 2005 parliamentary election where over 250 women were arrested and many brutally beaten by police in Harare as they conducted a prayer vigil.

Today’s prayer has special significance as political violence is on the increase with hundreds of activists arrested and injured. Prayers focused on the need for citizens to refrain from retaliation and for police to refuse to harm people.

As the pray opened, Nkosi Sikelela iAfrica was sung followed by a prayer that Zimbabweans will continue to choose non-violence and love over violence and hate and use peaceful resistance to hold this government and politicians accountable for bad governance.

The vigil went on for one and half hours with singing and powerful prayers calling for lasting peace in Zimbabwe. Several women took the floor preaching and quoting scriptures such as Matthew 5:9 ‘Blessed be the peacemakers’. Women also testified as to how they were assaulted on election night by police in Harare but called on Zimbabweans to remain committed to peaceful protest. The vigil was closed with Timothy 2:1 ‘You then my child be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus and what you have heard from me through my witnesses and entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.’

Initially the participants had gathered in the Church but were moved across to the hall when it became free at 2:30 pm. It was as members were moving over that police details, including PISI officer, Abraham Dapi who is well known to WOZA, arrived. Today, seeking to be surreptitious, Dapi and other officers arrived by commuter omnibus. They did not go into the hall but sat on the church wall and observed. More police officers from the Law and Order department came and their numbers swelled to over 15. A Law and Order officer, Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya, manhandled the WOZA security at the door, asking what was going on in the Hall, threatening her whilst holding her by the scruff of her neck.

As the prayer vigil was drawing to an end it became obvious that police officers were in position and waiting on further instruction. As the members disbursed, Archbishop Pius Ncube came and shook hands with each member, one by one, as they dispersed giving encouragement and reminding people to disperse peacefully. The police officers just continued to observe close by.

After all the members had dispersed, the leaders, including Jenni Williams, began to leave. After shaking hands with the Archbishop they made to walk out of the church grounds. As Jenni left she greeted the police officers who are well known to her. Sgt Ngwenya commented that she had been in a meeting to which she replied that there had been a prayer service. ‘Who were you praying for’ he quipped – ‘For you’, she replied. Ngwenya then roughly pulled one of the prayer organizers aside and asked her when Jenni had become a Roman Catholic. (Williams is not only a Roman Catholic but was in her home parish, St Mary’s)

As Williams and other leaders walked away, police were seen rushing to get into their blue pick up to follow Williams. Fortunately a WOZA security vehicle was quick to pick up Williams and the other leaders and speed away.

WOZA would like to commend Archbishop Pius Ncube for his courage and for the encouragement to members who they knew would have to walk past police officers known for their brutality. We also pay tribute to members of WOZA and MOZA for braving the Public Order Security Act (POSA) and the harsh repressive environment, and their courage to come out in hundreds to pray for peace. We call on the families of police officers Dapi and Ngwenya to give them ‘tough love’ and take them to church to pray for guidance.

Gweru 34 further remanded to May

The 34 members arrested whilst launching the People’s Charter in Gweru at the beginning of March appeared in remand court on 21st and 22nd March.

The 26 who were arrested during the demonstration appeared in court on 21st and were further remanded to 8th May. The following day, the eight who were arrested either before or after the demonstration, appeared in a Gweru Magistrate’s court and were remanded to 9th May.

Meanwhile the 20 members who were arrested whilst launching the People’s Charter in Masvingo continue to report to Masvingo Central Police Station every Friday as part of their bail conditions. They are due to appear in remand court on 4th April.

Victory in Tredgold Magistrates Court and a yellow card for ZETDC

yellow-card-zesa-2011

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) today launch their ‘Power to Poor People’ Campaign against the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC). The campaign will feature the signing of a petition dubbed the ‘Anti Abuse of Power’ Petition; completing of a time sheet of power cuts and the delivering of a ‘yellow card’ to the company.   WOZA has campaigned for affordable and available electricity since 2006 with its ‘power to the people’ campaigns. The campaign is designed to put pressure on the company to stop disconnections until they are able to deliver a better service to their customers.

Last year members completed power cut times sheet in May and September. And in the next 2 weeks will once again complete a record whilst going door to door to obtaining signatures for the ‘anti abuse of power’ petition. Once the petition signing is complete the petitions will be taken to the Anti corruption and Monopolies Committee of Parliament to lobby mainly for a prepaid system of electricity. may-2011-petition1

Our demands are:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Stop cheating fixed meter consumers, we demand prepaid meters.
2. Please provide cheaper firewood, candles and matches, we do not want to destroy our environment by cutting down trees.
3. We are tired of 18 hour power cuts -provide proper timetables of load shedding.
4. Urgently put in place a proper and transparent billing system. Stop sending metered consumers estimates, send ACTUAL bills.                                                                                                                                                                     5. Create a smoother process of customer’s claims for compensation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6. Review recruitment policy and bring salaries to decent levels with our current economic record. Professionalise staff performance and honesty. No more luxury cars we need transformers.
7. We will record the exact hours we receive electricity for the last 2 weeks of May while we get petition signatures which we will take to Parliament and demand they review your monopoly and poor service. You have cheated us for long enough, after we submit our demand to parliament we will organise a RED card Campaign. Be warned POWER TO THE POOR – ZERO service ZERO bill. HOKOYO!!

Last year, the response of the company was to have their security arrest WOZA leaders who spent 6 days in custody, 3 of those days the Independence Holiday. For last year’s Harare protest go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8hEur0ceQ0. Also watch rough footage of the Valentines’ Day protest  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2-PrFvmwQs

At 11am yesterday 200 Chitungwiza members marched to their City Council officers to demand water, they have had not water for over 2 to 3 weeks.

Ten members arrested in three batches from 28 February to 7 March who were tortured in custody had charges withdrawn by the state at 8:30 am this morning when they appeared at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court. The state decided to respect a Supreme Court ruling obtained by Williams and Mahlangu. The ruling granted that the two women had been wrongfully arrested and detained and, as a result, had their rights and fundamental freedoms violated. The full bench of the Supreme Court also found that the state had failed to protect the activists from this abuse.  The two had spent 3 weeks in Mlondolozi Prison after a peaceful protest. 10th May 2011 For more information email info@wozazimbabwe.org. Visit our website at www.wozazimbabwe.org. You can also follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/wozazimbabwe or find us on Facebook. power-cut-time-sheet May 2011

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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2-PrFvmwQs

Police continue to target WOZA members

In the ongoing climate of police brutality in Zimbabwe today, WOZA members continue to be on the receiving end of police violence.

Two members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were taken from their homes in Warren Park, Harare, late on Monday night by police. Three truckloads of police took the mother and daughter from their home at gunpoint, blindfolded them and took them into an unknown destination in the bush. There they were questioned about WOZA and assaulted with weapons and fists.

After several hours of assault and questioning, the two women convinced their attackers that they did not know anything and they were dumped in the bush. They later managed to get a lift back into Harare where they raised the alert. The women are currently receiving medical attention for their injuries.

In a separate incident, another WOZA member in Gweru was picked up by police on Friday and taken to Gweru Central where she was interrogated for several hours – police insisting that WOZA started the current state of emergency with their demonstration in Gweru on 5th March. They searched her house illegally (for fertilizer and petrol) and confiscated her radio. She had been badly beaten in custody following that demonstration and police continued to threaten her – stating that they would be back for her and they would make sure that she never returned to Gweru.

The 35 members arrested in Gweru following the launch of the People’s Charter in the first week of March will appear in remand court on 21st and 22nd March.

Three women finally released 9 March

Mid afternoon today 9 March, the three Dube women were finally released. As a face saver, police made them sign warn and cautioned statements charged with ‘blocking the pavement’. If police can find witnesses they would have to proceed by summonsing them to appear in Court. But no police officers seem to be  forthcoming as witnesses or as investigating officers. WOZA view this as a victory for the naming and shaming of Officers Ngwenya and Mdawini who tortured collegues arrested earlier in the week.

Woza Moya!! Aluta continua!

Previous post for background –  Second night in jail for 3 despite cops refusing to prosecute

Today is international Women’s Day and our three colleagues, Eneles Dube, Janet Dube and Selina Dube,  arrested at the 7 March Women’s Day protest remain in custody for a second night. The Lawyer attending the case, Lizwe Jamela was himself arrested this morning so could not attend our members until they were released. As of close of business today, Law and Order officers admitted to Mr Jamela that as a result of the release of the previous 4 colleagues without charge, they cannot prosecutor this matter and had refused to accept the case and returned it to the arresting department. The head of this department could not take a decision and passed the docket to the Officer Commanding Bulawayo District requesting instruction on how to proceed.

Meanwhile our 3 colleagues remain in the hellhole that is Bulawayo central police station. There is no flushing toilets; no food and we have to bring food in to every meal and risk theft of this food by officers; no blankets; no access to medication by those on anti retrovirals; no access to water; filthy cells and harassment by police officers.  They have not had the right to see a lawyer.

The arrests saga seems to have become difficult to follow so we provide herewith a recap of the arbitrary arrests since 28 February 2011.

28 February 2011 – Three men, Gift Nkomo, Proud Pandeya, Noah Mapfuma of Entumbane suburb in Bulawayo are arrested, tortured and held for 48 hours before being arraigned with $50 each bail and surrendering of travel documents. They are reporting to the Law and Order Department of Bulawayo Central Police station twice a week and will reappear in court on 16 March 2011. Charged under C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23: “Acting together with one or more other persons with him/her in any place realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security or order of the public”.

28 February 2011 – the afternoon of the same day, another 4 arrested. The 3 women and one man – Sitshiyiwe Ngwenya, Joyce Ndebele, Moreblessing Dube, Kholwani Ndlovu of Mabutweni Suburb in Bulawayo are held for 48 hours and tortured before being arraigned with $50 each bail and surrendering of travel documents. They are reporting to the Law and Order Department of Bulawayo Central Police station twice a week and will reappear in court on 16 March 2011. Charged under C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23: “Acting together with one or more other persons with him/her in any place realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security or order of the public”.

1st March 2011 – Fourteen women from Mabutweni Suburb of Bulawayo are arrested late afternoon at a burial society meeting – 4 WOZA members, rest members of the public. Released late the same night without charge.

4 March 2011 – Another 4 women from Pumula in Bulawayo are arrested. They are Glory Ncube, Nomsa Sibanda, Monica Shema and Beatrice Ngwenya. After 48 hours and a solidarity protest by WOZA members, they are released as the state refused to prosecute the four. They had been tortured and Monica had money stolen from her by arresting police officers.

7 March 2011 – Three women, Eneles Dube, Janet Dube and Selina Dube,  part of the peaceful protest are arrested by Riot Police and taken to Bulawayo Central Police station. They are hidden away from lawyer’s access until they manage to get a phone call home to ask for food.  The remain in custody for a second night despite the fact that the Law and order department of the police responsible for this kind of case do not wish to process them for court as a result of the previous four released without charge. They await district commissioner’s further instruction. These three women seem not to have been tortured but access to them has been limited to verify this.

At this time we ask members of the public for solidarity in the form of phone calls to Bulawayo Central Police station calling for the release of these activists. Please call +263 9 72515 and ask for the ‘DISPOL’ who is the Officer Commanding Bulawayo District. If you fail ask for Detective Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya and ask him to change his violent ways.

Victory for courage in Bulawayo and 4 released 3 arrested

At 10am today, Monday 7 March, Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) sprang an early International Women’s Day protest. As well as issues related to this special day, members wanted to protest the ongoing arrest and torture of members this last week. As protestors marched they issued a newsletter calling on SA president Jacob Zuma and SADC leaders to help us end the violence.

The five protests began from locations surrounding the High Court. Two of the protests managed to reach the 8th Avenue Court but three protests were dispersed by riot police and army. Three women have been arrested but have not been located at the police station by human rights lawyers. WOZA is concerned for their safety as police are hiding them. The three are Eneles Dube, Janet Dube and Selina Dube.

As Bulawayo awoke to heavy police and army presence in the city, WOZA leaders decided to reduce the protest to the bravest of the brave numbering 500 female and male members. Another strategy adopted was to conduct flash protests, (appear and disappear as soon as police arrive). Additionally, headlines from the daily newspapers revealed an unofficial ban of rally and protests.

Higher numbers of riot police were deployed at the previous target of WOZA protests – The Chronicle. However they quickly heard the loud singing and ran up several city blocks to respond. The song that carried a strong message – Kubi kubi siyaya – noma kunjani – besitshaya; besibopha; besidubula, siyaya. Roughly translated “the situation is bad but we will still get where we are going, even if the beats us, arrest us, or shoot to kill us, we will get there”. One police officer ordering one of the protests to disperse said – what rights are you talking about? – you are lying, you want to start a revolution!

After they dispersed the protests, about 40 uniformed and plain clothed police officers picked up every single placard and newsletter, exposing two of their colleagues who had tortured members. One police officer came across a man holding the placard. He asked the man to show him it and asked why he was writing on it. The man said he needs scrap paper to write something down. The officer took it and proceeded to carefully fold this A2 size placard into the smallest piece imaginable and put it in his pocket telling the man, holding such a thing is not allowed.

The protests taking place around International Women’s Day provide an opportunity to demand respect for Women’s rights and for peace in Zimbabwe. The theme adopted as part of the Constitutional reform process is ‘the rising of the women means the rising of the nation – No more poverty and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit”.

After the dispersal of members, they did not go home but went straight to Tredgold court to await the appearance of their colleagues. Forcing a further deployment of Riot Police and plain clothed detectives to the remand court where the stalemate seemed to endure.

Over the last week, members have been arrested and tortured by police officers in Bulawayo. Seven members on Monday 28th February and 4 on Saturday 5th March 2011. The four currently in custody all have swollen faces and Nomsa Sibanda could not use her hands to hold her baby. At 10am they were due to attend court but for unknown reasons they had still not attended court by mid afternoon. At 4:30pm, the state refused to prosecute and released the four without them appearing in court to be officially charged.

WOZA and MOZA wish to send a stern message to the police force – there is no basis for a state of emergency in Zimbabwe be it official or unofficial.  According to the current constitution we have the right to protest and assembly peacefully. If they are wanting to declare a state of emergency they will have to justify it in law but the only people we see disturbing the peace are units of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, namely Riot squad, Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI) like Mdawini, Law and Order detectives based at Bulawayo Central like George Levison Ngwenya. If they continue to arbitrarily arrest our members we will respond with more protests and expose those who commit torture.

WOZA leaders pay tribute to the courage of members who seeing the police and army all over could so easily have stayed at home but because of the pressure they brought to bear, their colleagues have walked away without charge when earlier in the week, their seven colleagues were being threatened with prison and had to pay for their freedom.

————————-  Text of the Woza Moya Newsletter
International Women’s Day 2011 Demand Dignity; Demand Development and begin your Affirmative Action for Development on 8 march 2011

A message from the World March of Women International Women’s voices and actions are important to the construction of people power, and on International Women’s Day we commit ourselves to struggle alongside our sisters to ensure their active participation in their country’s transition processes. One year on from the launch of our 3rd International Action, we – feminists and activists of the World March of Women – continue to march, resist and construct alternatives. We renew our commitment to organise collectively until all of us are free from the oppressions and discriminations that we face as women. We are committed to strengthening, consolidating and expanding our permanent movement around the world.

We continue to be challenged by the need to build and strengthen the links between our action areas – Violence against women, Peace and demilitarisation, the common good and public services, Women’s work – in our struggle for autonomy over our lives and bodies. The systematic use of violence against women as a weapon of war in these conflicts; the exploitation of women’s productive and reproductive work and of the environment in order to strengthen patriarchy and racism protect capitalism.

We take direct action to pressurise our governments to reduce military spending, we are saying “enough!” to the militarisation of our communities and societies. When we mobilise outside embassies, our international solidarity is translated into action on behalf of sisters who are imprisoned, tortured, raped and criminalised in other countries. When we are loud, visible and irreverent in the streets, we challenge the patriarchal system within which a woman’s “natural” space is the home and the family.

When we demand equal salaries for equal work and workers rights, we are struggling for fair working conditions for all sisters exploited in the globalised, capitalist system. When we resist false solutions to climate change; we are demonstrating that we not accept the destruction of peoples and of our planet while big business continues to pollute and destroy. When we mobilise we are showing that we refuse to accept the exploitation of the environment and of peoples in countries whose economy is dependant on the exportation of metals and minerals. In a globalised, free-market world, the patriarchal and capitalist systems are borderless, while peoples are controlled within confined spaces, or else forced to flee from their ancestral territories. We will not be silenced by bullets, bombs and aggression! The 8th March is a historic day of women’s struggle and we will once again be out in the streets in protest, in denouncement and in commemoration of victories to come in 2011!  Women on the March until we are All Free!

WOZA Statement on International Women’s Day 2011 As WOZA and MOZA members march their hearts are heavy. This last week our members, comrades and friends have been arrested for no clear reason. They were beaten and tortured in custody by police officers and Law and Order officers including Mdawini who is based at West Commonage police station and George Levison Ngwenya from Law and Order Bulawayo. These officers must learn to respect women’s rights, which are human rights. A police officer lifted up the dress of a member to expose her underwear for all other officers to see. We still remember late Maria Moyo who was abducted in August 2007 and tortured at Khami Dam. She died some days later. This Tuesday 1st March, George Levison Ngwenya cruelly showed a member her photograph and threatened to kill her the way late Maria was killed. It is this cruelty and hatred that must be stopped. As we march today, WOZA and MOZA members say, this our day to remind them of our rights and our need for peace and to demand that police and soldiers withdraw from the streets and allow us to live in peace. We call on SA president Jacob Zuma and SADC leaders to help us end the violence.

The RISING of the women means the RISING of the nation. No more poverty and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit! As we go marching, marching, we struggle for men too – for they are women’s children and we mother them again! You strike a woman and you strike a rock!

Four Bulawayo Women Arrested and Tortured

At noon Saturday 4 March, Glory Ncube arrived in Robert Sinyoka to visit her sick mother. She was arrested by plain clothed police driving a cream double cab. They drove her to her home in Old Pumula and thoroughly searched her home for WOZA material. They then drove past Nomsa Sibanda’s house and seeing her outside, grabbed her without occupants of her house even realising. It seems they then came across Monica Shema and Beatrice Ngwenya on the road waiting for transport to town and promptly grabbed them too. All four activists were taken to Bulawayo Central Police station. Human Rights lawyer Kossam Ncube managed to see them but was told to return on Sunday at which point an investigating officer could have been appointed.

Nomusa Sibanda is a nursing mother of a one year old.

WOZA members are reporting heavy presence of police and army and ‘youth’ who are drunk and violently beat up anyone indiscriminately. These police officers have been going around telling people to be in their homes by 8:30pm and if they disobey they will be severely beaten. Many members have witnessed beating of people as they try to go about their business. The same security forces are also telling people to never group in more than 3 people and if they do, they are beaten. The police have also been conducting serious ‘stop and search’ of people in all suburbs and also in town. Member’s recall last seeing this level of security during the 1982 crack down by the 5th Brigade. The country seems to be in the grip of an undeclared state of emergency.

Relatives feeding the four women confirm they have swollen faces and hands. Nomsa was unable to hold or feed her baby brought to her Sunday morning.

WOZA wish to call on SADC guarantors of the global political agreement to urgently send a delegation to Zimbabwe to visit the suburbs and observe this crack down by security forces before there is loss of life. Additionally, we ask for them to hold police accountable for their proper role in society instead of arresting people arbitrarily when they are going about their business peacefully.

Seven charged and appear in court, granted bail with reporting conditions

The Fourteen people arrested yesterday  afternoon were released last night without charge.

Seven members, 3 women and 4 men arrested on 28 February 2011 in two separate incidents in Entumbane and Mabutweni, Bulawayo appeared in court today 2 March 2011.  They and were granted bail on payment of $50 each. Other conditions of bail included that they must report to the Law and Order department of Bulawayo Central police station, twice a week, Mondays and Fridays; surrender their travel documents; not interfere with witnesses and reside at their given addresses.

They were charged with C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23: “Acting together with one or more other persons with him/her in any place realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security or order of the public”.

They were represented by Matshobana Ncube deployed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. He argued that the state was ill-advised to proceed with charges and cited a landmark Supreme Court ruling obtained by WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu from a 16 October 2008 arrest. Defence lawyer Ncube applied for charges against the seven to be dropped when they next appear as the ruling means the matter will not be successfully taken to trail. Ncube also advised that all seven had been tortured in custody prompting the magistrate to order the prosecutor to investigate this allegation. The activists were assaulted by police officers and were also beaten Falanga style, which is to beat someone on the soles of their feet to try to prevent easy detection.

The seven were then ordered to reappear in remand court on 16 March, they are now enroute to medical doctors.
The matter was heard by Magistrate Rukweza and Jerry Mutsindikwa represented the state.
WOZA leaders would like to acknowledge the magistrates for hearing this matter, as they were about to go on strike for a more pay. This is the sort of non-violent action, WOZA activists are often arrested for. We wish them well as they engage a government that could not care less that USD250 is hardly a living wage although most Zimbabweans get far less.

One thousand eight hundred members march for love in Bulawayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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