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Police distrupt WOZA march on International Day of Peace
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
September 22, 2005

OVER SEVEN HUNDRED Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) took to the streets of Harare and Bulawayo at noon yesterday, 21 September International Day of Peace. The peaceful women defied the Public Order Security Act (POSA) which calls for organisations to notify Police ahead of gatherings. Women marched under the theme Peace not Poverty and sang songs highlighting hunger and abuse of their rights.

WOZA was formed to raise the voice of women within the framework of the current governance and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. A spokesperson for the organisers, (nameless for security reasons) said, "Once again, Zimbabweans who witnessed our protests saw peaceful women speaking out. We work to make injustices visible and yesterday as is usual in Zimbabwe, Police disturbed the peace. We call on them to stop using POSA to take away our constitutional right to freedoms of assembly and expression. If they heed our call their can be a sustainable form of peace not poverty and oppression. We call on the authorities to stop Operation Murambatsvina which is still ongoing as this insensitive so called clean up is making the poor much poorer"

In Harare, 250 women started peacefully at Market square and marched the 5 city blocks towards their targeted destination of Town House. They sang "Tine nzara" (We are hungry). As they approached Town House, about 7 Riot Police approached and when the women peacefully sat down, they started to beat one woman, telling her to run away like her colleagues. She remained seated until the officer was told by his colleagues to rather beat those women running away. Two women have attended medical treatment for baton inflicted assaults. Although the letter to the Town Clerk, co signed with Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), called for an end to Operation Murambatsvina was not directly delivered to Town House, copies were handed out as the women marched. Women also left their placards at the entrance to Town House. No women were arrested.

In Bulawayo, over 450 women converged close to the Zimbabwe Electricity supply Authority (ZESA) offices to start their procession. They selected to start at ZESA, so as to deliver a warning regarding the constant increases of electricity tariffs perpetuating their poverty. The target for Bulawayo women was Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) offices at Southampton House in Main St / 9th Avenue. The peacefully marched the five city blocks there and upon arrival chanted their slogans and left their placards at the entrance. They sang 'Amalungelo' (Our rights). Women dispersed but three were arrested by plain clothes officers as they walked away. Another 10 women were arrested at St Mary's Cathedral three blocks away. One of the women was an innocent bystander.

The women spent the night in custody and lawyers were granted access 22 September. The women are under pressure to pay admission of guilt fines but are insisting on being charged and taken to court. The lawyer is hopeful they will complete the finger printing and photographing process and be taken to court later today.

WOZA also pay tribute to the growing courage of the people who stop to watch, stop their cars to get leaflets and even join in. We say well done Zimbabweans. Yesterday two men were overhead by one of our leaders. Their conversation went like this. "Do you see muscles? (Pointing to the protest). Yes you tell the truth, we men just talk (moves his mouth making talking sounds) pretending to have muscles - these are the real muscles".

Meanwhile, three different WOZA women arrested on 28 May for a demonstration on hunger appeared in Court 22 September for the third time for Trial. The trial was again postponed to 19 October 2005.

Visit the WOZA fact sheet

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