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and MOZA commemorate International Women Human Rights Defenders
Day with march in Bulawayo
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
November 29, 2010
At noon today,
approximately 900 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise marked
International Women Human Rights Defenders Day with a peaceful procession
to the offices of the state-owned Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo.
No arrests have been reported as yet but as there is a visible police
presence in central Bulawayo, this may change.
WOZA's National Coordinator was briefly detained by a senior-ranking
police officer during the march but was later released after a discussion
about its legality. Williams insisted that Zimbabweans have the
right to peaceful protest under the current constitution. Williams
was also roughly jostled by the female officer during this exchange,
resulting in the aggravation of an existing back condition that
The aim of the
peaceful procession was to launch WOZA's consulted position
on the COPAC constitution questions. The report is entitled 'the
rising of women means the rising of the nation - no more poverty
and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit'. A copy
of the report is available on our website.
started from different locations in the city centre and converged
on the offices of the Chronicle. The peaceful group sang as they
marched and handed out copies of their views on the constitutional
questions. Their songs included the lyrics, "there is an issue
that we want to make public - our views on the constitution"
and "as women we must rise up and stand firm for our views
so that our country can improve".
WOZA began a
15-month civic education process around the constitution
in July 2009 involving the participation of 9,036 members (7,885
females and 1,151 males) in a phased training programme that culminated
in a consultation around the COPAC questions, the responses to which
have been included in the report. Participants were drawn from 37
urban areas in Bulawayo and Harare and 23 rural areas in Matabeleland
and Mashonaland. The age range of these participants was
14 to 93 years.
The report has
been formally submitted to COPAC. The procession today is the first
in a series of peaceful marches designed to ensure the views of
members are heard, respected and will be included in the draft constitution.
Members selected The Chronicle offices as a target in their fight
to pressure for free media and to express solidarity with the arrest
and extended detention of Nqobani Ndlovu, a Bulawayo-based journalist.
is a significant date for WOZA. It is International Women Human
Rights Defenders Day and part of the 16 Days of Activism against
Gender Violence. Furthermore, on 29 November 2006, hundreds of members
were brutally beaten in Bulawayo and many arrested whilst peacefully
launching the WOZA People's Charter.
the importance of the 16 Days of Activism, WOZA would like to insist
that 365 days of the year be considered days of activism against
gender violence. At no time, is violence against any individual
follows a victory for WOZA in the Supreme
Court last week. On Friday 26th, Justice Garwe, the Supreme
Court judge of appeals, handed down a ruling on the 2008 challenge
taken by WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. The
verbal ruling granted that the two women had been wrongfully arrested
and detained and, as a result, had their rights and fundamental
freedoms violated. Justice Garwe also ruled that the state had failed
to protect the activists from this abuse. The application for a
repealing of section 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act was dismissed and the reason
will be made available. More details are available on our website.
the WOZA fact
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