By Professor Matodzi
Bulawayo, August 06, 2016 – POLICE in Bulawayo have arrested nine members of social and economic rights lobby, Woman Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and four youths for allegedly wearing graduation gowns and plotting to stage a protest during an international cricket match played in the city.
Police have told rights lawyers the arrests were a pre-emptive strategy by the state to prevent any protests by the vocal rights lobby.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights reported Saturday that the group was arrested at Queens Sports Club, the venue of the cricket match between Zimbabwe and New Zealand.
“Nine WOZA members arrested at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo being taken to Nkulumane Police Station while WOZA leader Jenni Williams is being detained at Donnington,” said ZLHR communications officer Kumbirai Mafunda.
ZLHR deployed its lawyers to secure the release of the group.
“Police frustrating ZLHR lawyers Mehluli Dube and Solomon Mguni by denying them access to their clients as they claim that the WOZA members were arrested for preventative purposes as they were convinced that they intended to stage a protest during the Zimbabwe and New Zealand cricket match,” Mafunda said.
Samuel Meso, Kudzai Hove, Gift Ostallos Siziba and Rodwell Nyika were the youth arrested for wearing graduation gowns during the cricket match.
The arrest of WOZA members comes hardly two weeks after they staged a march in Bulawayo’s CBD while denouncing high level corruption and police brutality.
The march, dubbed “Citizen’s voices on the state of the nation”, brought business in the city centre to a standstill as protestors waved placards denouncing the government for a slew of transgressions against the population.
The state has panicked following the wave of anti-government protests that have rocked the country in recent weeks.
Police last week swooped on a group of unemployed graduates and activists who were marching against massive joblessness and the looming introduction of Zimbabwean bond notes into circulation.
Journalists were among some of the people who were beaten up during the demonstration, something which has brought the spotlight back on government’s hostile handling of the media.