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WOZA 'power to the people' campaign continues with a day of action in Bulawayo
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
July 30, 2007

Hundreds of members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) took part in peaceful street actions in 10 areas of Bulawayo today. The community-based demonstrations targeted local shops and businesses demanding affordable food on the shelves and an end to selling to cronies and the uniformed forces out the back door. The protestors also delivered an open letter to business owners and the ministers of Industry and Commerce and Home Affairs to demand meaningful economic reforms, rather than the unthinking slashing of prices. There have been no reports of arrests to date from any of the protests.

Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) then completed a morning of protest by marching for four blocks through central Bulawayo to TM Hypermarket with the same demands. This was MOZA's first demonstration on their own. Plain-clothed police officers were seen collecting up the open letter after the protest and presumably it will be delivered through them to the respective ministers.

Activists targeted shops in Nkulumane 5, Mpopoma, Matshobana, Mabutweni, Njube, Nkulumane 12, Tshabalala, Pumula Old and North and Magwegwe. In the city centre MOZA targeted OK Bazaars and TM Hypermarket.

The open letter carried by the protestors outlined several demands to both businesses and government, including the request that government and the manufacturing sector should negotiate in good faith to find ways to produce more affordable food without compromising the living wage of workers; that the Price Control Task Force be reshuffled and be selected in a transparent manner and that government stop harassing shop owners and allow them to stock and trade freely and honestly at the price set.

Open letter to:
Zimbabwean retail and manufacturing business people
Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Obert Mpofu
Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Kembo Mohadi

Fellow Zimbabweans,

Firstly we wish to introduce ourselves to you; we are Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise, a socio-economic movement formed to press for the promises of the liberation war to be delivered. We want a Zimbabwe where there is equality and respect for all its people. The Zimbabwe that we dream of is outlined in our People's Charter that came about after consulting Zimbabweans across the country last year.

Included in the People's Charter is the demand for adequate, affordable food with price controls on basic commodities if necessary. We note that price controls have now been introduced by government, supposedly as part of an ongoing campaign to ensure that basic commodities are affordable. We thank you for taking a step in the right direction.

We also note however that the introduction of price controls on every item for sale in the country has also led to basic commodities (and just about everything else) disappearing from the shelves. Slashing prices it is not enough - something needs to be done to ensure there are enough supplies of basic commodities for everyone. This will not happen if corruption and inflation are not tackled by meaningful political change. Slashing the zeroes did not help - neither will just slashing prices.

For us to truly believe that government has the people at heart and wishes to ensure that its people will have enough to eat today and every day, we wish to ask that both business and government join hands to take the following steps.

1. Government and the manufacturing sector should negotiate in good faith to find ways to produce more affordable food without compromising the living wage of workers. As a priority, fuel needs to be made available at affordable prices to reduce transport costs.

2. The uniformed forces should join the queues with others, with immediate effect, instead of having their own queues. If the Minister of Home Affairs did an unbiased investigation into the parallel or black market he would find that it is the family members of police and army who are allowed to buy in bulk - they take these goods onto the pavements and sell to us at inflated prices.

3. We ask the Ministry to reshuffle the Price Control Task Force as they are now corrupting the programme. There should be transparency as to how they are selected and what formula is used to work out the new prices.

4. We call on Government to stop harassing shop owners and allow them to stock and trade freely and honestly at the price set.

5. We ask shop owners to sell basic commodities through their formal businesses and their front door rather than out the back door and onto the black market.

6. We call on all Zimbabweans to be part of the solution - not part of the problem. We should not support or spread the black market and allow prices to skyrocket. Let us all help to bring down prices so we can have enough food in our homes. Please our children are starving - stop hoarding!

7. We also ask the Ministries of Home Affairs and Industry and Commerce to realise that WOZA and MOZA have a constitutional right to peaceful protest. We have the right to demand that food be available and affordable. Stop arresting and beating us when we only want to feed our families.

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