OVER 100 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) are in custody at
Bulawayo Central Police station, many are handcuffed in violation of
women’s right protocols. Riot Police ran wildly around the Main Street
and 8th Avenue intersection on orders of their Officer Commanding
Bulawayo who was present to demand they arrest members.
Lawyers have been denied access on three separate occasions. Those in
custody include WOZA leader Magodonga Mahlangu, three minor children
who are not members of WOZA and 3 breastfeeding mothers in custody.
WOZA national coordinator Jenni Williams was not arrested.
Ten protests were due to start at 11am Wednesday 27 June 2012 but Riot
police had already arrested 40 members and by-standers by 10:30am.
Only 3 of the ten protests made it to the sit-in location will be the
road surrounding the space where the memorial statue of late Joshua
Nkomo should be.
Four additional protests were conducted after 11:30 am marching from
the Statue to the Bulawayo Central Police station. Riot police were
deployed to refuse them entry into the police station and threatened
to beat them before dispersing them from handing themselves in.
The protest were organised to push for the release of a draft
Constitution in a Bulawayo sit-in protest. WOZA are using this
occupation style of protest to demand their full right to peaceful
protest, freedom of assembly and expression. 1000 members were
expected to participate in the sit-in.
Members were singing a popular song sung in the early 1980s. It is
sung in isiNdebele language – ‘ilitshe likaNkomo limbomboziwe,
liyovulwa ngubani, limbomboziwe? (Loosely translated it means Nkomos
‘stone’ denoting a plan has been hidden or turned upside down, who is
going to put it right?)
The choice of location is to expose the disrespect to late Joshua
Nkomo, called ‘Father Zimbabwe’. He came from a crop of genuine
nationalist and he remains unrecognised. The block of cement ‘statue’
and airport named after him and a brand new unopened hospital are
caught up in centralised power struggles – not one of them finished.
Devolution in the new constitution would mean we can recognise our own
heroes in our own way as the sit-in attempts to do. WOZA also wanted
to focus on him. He was the kind of unique politician who could
develop clear ideology with people at heart. The current batch of
politicians seem empty minded and recycle Zanu PF political cultures.
In the end Nkomo put peoples welfare before his political ambition and
surrendered his party ZAPU to Zanu violence. A mistake that can never
be repeated again as people must decide their own destiny and refuse
to be silenced by violence
27th June 2012 For more information, please call Jenni Williams +263
772 898 110 or +263 712 213 885. Do not call Magodonga Mahlangu +263
772 362 668 as she is in custody. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our
website at www.wozazimbabwe.org. You can also follow us on Twitter at
twitter.com/wozazimbabwe or find us on Facebook.