Joyce Mujuru – SA’s “guest of dishonour”

BY GIFT PHIRI
HARARE - Zimbabwe's civic society has said it was "dismayed" and "extremely disappointed" by the presence of Vice-President Joice Mujuru at the golden jubilee of the South African Women's Day last week given the atrocious and systematic subjugation of women in Zimbabwe.


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Mujuru presided over the 50th anniversary of the brave women who marched across Soweto in 1956 protesting the “anti-pass laws” put in place by the apartheid regime.
Mujuru was a guest of honour at the historic anniversary that was capped by a demonstration by more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Building in Pretoria where they handed a set of demands calling for greater freedoms and empowerment of women.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a broad alliance representing more than 50 civic groups, said it was shocked by Pretoria’s decision to invite Mujuru to preside over the historic event given the upsetting suppression of women in Zimbabwe.
“Mrs Mujuru is a central figure in a government that has refused to take responsibility for or address the untold damage and destruction of Operation Murambatsvina,” the coalition said in a press statement. “She has shown no concern for the plight of the women who lost their homes and businesses. She has not done anything to preven-t the ongoing harassment of women vendors in the informal sector. She has supported the denial of basic freedoms to women throughout her political career, and has vehemently and publicly opposed the principle of women’s equality to men.”
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a militant women’s pressure group which has staged more than 35 pro-democracy protests since its launch in 2003, said it was “deeply disturbed” to see Mujuru officiating at the SA Women’s Day when her government back home was at war with women, harassing vendors and demanding bribes from desperate women hard-pressed to educate and feed their children.
“She is complicit in the oppression of women and it was so ironic to hear her address a foreign crowd about human rights. We will continue to give her and the regime our dose of tough love,” said a WOZA spokesperson.
Crisis Coalition said Mujuru’s presence as a guest of honour was an affront to the memory of those brave veterans of the 1956 march that would have been illegal and subject to brutal repression had it been attempted in present-day Zimbabwe.
“Leaders whose actions have caused untold harm and suffering to the poorest and most vulnerable women in their countries should be held accountable – not feted as guests of honour,” Crisis Coalition said.

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