WOZA Piles On More Pressure On Government

By Jermaine Ndlovu

Bulawayo, July 26, 2016 – SCORES of women belonging to the vocal female protest group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) emerged Tuesday to pile on more pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s government which is battling to contain growing discontentment among ordinary Zimbabweans.

The women staged a march within the CBD in Bulawayo denouncing high level corruption and police brutality, among the ills associated with the current Zanu PF led government.

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.

WOZA has in the past defied continued harassment by the state to stage numerous street protests in Harare and Bulawayo.

However, they were conspicuous by their absence when citizens recently turned the heat on their rulers demanding better leadership and an end to joblessness and hunger.

Protestors who have emerged in the recent past include #ThisFlag campaign fronted by pastor Evan Mawarire, #Tajamuka, #BeatThePot campaign, among others.

Probably galvanised by the success of recent protests, WOZA on Tuesday returned back to the streets to stage a protest against what they said was police brutality targeted at ordinary citizens during the recent wave of protests.

The protestors carried placards inscribed, “Mugabe must go”, “Where is the $15 billion”, “Stop police brutality” and “Sesidiniwe nge (tired with) Corruption”.

The demo came barely two weeks after MDC-T Vice President Thokozani Khupe led hundreds of women in a city protest dubbed #BeatThePot which saw women beating empty pots in a symbolic protest against continued hunger in Zimbabwe.

The demonstrating WOZA members on Tuesday made a stopover at state run Chronicle building where they sang revolutionary songs while accusing the paper of being a government’s mouthpiece.

“The police should stop abusing innocent people who want their voices heard. Why should they beat us up, they can’t stop us anymore,” said  Magodonga Mahlangu, one of the WOZA leaders.

“During the recent protests and stayaway, the people remained peaceful but the police brutally trampled upon citizens expression, indiscriminately arresting, torturing and tear-gassing adults and children.

She added: “Despite police brutality, the struggle continues and we need to continue to speak out and act non-violently until government hears us and our issues are addressed.

“All citizens, women and men alike have an obligation to fend for their families; so we live to see children’s faces showing hunger and this is what motivates us to cross the borders and trade.”

The protesters also marched to the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s statue within the city centre where they sang prayer songs and the now defunct but popular “Nkosi Sikelela iAfrica” national anthem.

“We are here crying for the Lord to hear us and we know he will deliver the Holy Spirit ‘woza moya’ to deliver us from this corrupt government,” Mahlangu said.

The hundreds finished off their demonstration at the Mhlahlandlela government complex entrance where they found riot police blocking the entrance.

Mahlangu said the government offices were the alternative since the Parliament was located in the capital.

“In Bulawayo we don’t have a parliament building so we opted for the government complex here, we as the women of Zimbabwe are tired of the corrupt government and the brutality we are receiving from the police; it should stop and demonstrators should be free to air out their grievances.

“Police have caused chaos and should not forget their duty which is to be non partisan, professional and be national in character. They should prosecute all human rights violations and not to participate in the act,” said Mahlangu.