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Valentine love protest made injustices visible
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
February 22, 2004

WOZA activists wish to announce that a successful protest was carried out on Valentines Day in Chitungwiza and 5 other suburban centres in Harare despite fact that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) refused to allow other protests to proceed and threatened to "shoot to kill" any protesters. Peaceful love marches had been planned for Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and central Harare but ZRP were fearful that the spirit of love would overcome hate.

The ZRP argued that the WOZA Valentine newsletter 'Woza Moya' (Come cleansing wind) was an attempt to denounce the President of Zimbabwe R. G. Mugabe. WOZA is about love for all Zimbabweans not about hating each other. The flyer included messages of love and the details of the demonstration. On the reverse of the flyer, WOZA quoted the President's words from Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and print news coverage, which we determined as hateful language; they should rather take it as tough love and a mother's discipline. WOZA stands for the truth, we renew our call to end the spreading of hate messages by all Zimbabweans. The media must assist in the healing of the nation, by balancing messages between truth and love.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise is a civic action pressure group made up of community women suffering under the current socio-economic and political crisis. Last year, WOZA organised a protest on Valentines Day calling on Zimbabweans to learn to love each other again and over 63 women and 9 men, mainly journalists were arrested. 17 spent a night in custody. The protestors were arrested under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), a draconian law that is in conflict with constitutional freedoms and rights.

A statement issued by 'Mother WOZA' a grouping of movement leaders said, "POSA is an unjust law that attempts to outlaw the most peaceful of marches like the Valentine protest of handing out flowers and calling for love to overcome hate. In Bulawayo, WOZA accepted the High Court ruling and no protests went ahead in [OUT OF] respect for the judiciary. But in Harare where written approval had been granted, Harare plain-clothes police told two members of 'Mother WOZA' that if the marches went ahead, the police would 'shoot to kill'. Despite this, women, who had collected at a secret venue resolved to brave this threat and go to suburban centres and continue with the work set for the day. In groups of between five to twenty they went to suburban shopping centres and handed out the donated roses and specially prepared Valentine Cards. In Chitungwiza, a group of about 130 women dressed in white collected opposite Chitungwiza Police Station and proceeded to give police cards and flowers which were well received. The band of women then went through the shopping centre handing out their gifts of love. Mother WOZA thanks Zimbabweans for receiving our message so well and for identifying with it and echoing the words of suffering. Our message read: "Our beloved Zimbabwe is crying. We must defend our right to love and let love overcome hate. We also thank women who came from all walks of life for answering the call, even though they found unreasonable police who chased them away. We also thank our United Kingdom sisters for conducting a protest outside Zimbabwe House to echo our plight and amplify our voice to be heard despite POSA, Police and Politicians."

WOZA have determined that the Valentines Day protest was a resounding success as we fulfilled our mandate to 'make injustice visible' and expose the hatred by people whose job it is to protect the nation. We recognise that the ZRP seems to have become enslaved by unjust laws.

Our Zimbabwe will be a better place when the power of love replaces the love of power. Enough is Enough, Sokwanele, Zvakwana.

Read the edition of "WOZA Moya" published for Valentine's day

Visit the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) fact sheet

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