Women of WOZA remember

BULAWAYO - Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) will gather in prayer this week to mark the anniversary of the arrest and brutal treatment of over 260 women by members of the ZRP in

on”>Africa Unity Square, Harare on March 31 last year.

“Many of our members are still suffering medical complications and distress as a result of the beatings they received then,” said a spokesperson for the organisation this week.

Activities were scheduled to take place at St Mary’s Cathedral in Bulawayo on Wednesday, while a prayer service was arranged for Harare on Friday.

The WOZA leadership has reiterated its challenge to MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai made in March last year: You asked us to defend our vote but did not say how – here is an Ndebele Proverb to help you: Okwethu ngokwezandla ngangokwenyawo ngakuyahamba. In English this means: It is about the hand (MDC Symbol) but if it were about the feet (in the street), progress could be made. The choice is now simple – mass action or mass starvation. “This statement was true then and it is still true today,” said the spokesperson.

WOZA’s message to the police also remains unchanged: ‘Strike a woman and you strike a rock.’

During last year’s peaceful demonstration to pray for peace in the post-election period and for divine intervention to prevent the results being manipulated by the government, police beat and trampled upon hundreds of women, taunting them with: “Harare is a no go area for you stubborn Bulawayo women. Go back to “Blair’s (Tony Blair Britain’s Prime Minister) and MDCs Bulawayo”.

Many of the women handed themselves in. Some had to convince a police officer to let them proceed in to the station as he tried to convince them to go away by saying: “Things are bad inside, the women are under armed guard.” The trio said they wanted to join the others, no matter what the conditions.

At the time, the women of WOZA, asked the first female Vice President of Zimbabwe, Joyce Mujuru to answer these questions: Where was she when riot police beat women and trampled them? Where was she when they were denied access to food and lawyers? Where was she when they had to sleep in an open courtyard? Where was she when they were denied access to toilets? She must show us if she is woman enough to defend women and their human rights of dignity and peaceful assembly. We believe that she must know – In prison or not, Zimbabwean women are not free!

A year later, they have received no reply. – Special correspondent

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