ASC condemns the arrest of WOZA Leaders

The ACTION Support Centre (ASC) Condemns the arrest of MOZA Leaders

Leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested Wednesday, September 13, while protesting at the offices of the Chronicle newspaper. The group was holding a demonstration demanding the resumption of the Constitutional reform exercise. The reasons for their arrests were unknown. Additionally, the police arrested eight other activists earlier in the day without charge. According the the MDC Assembly of Women, the continued harassment of these two women bears testimony to the reality that Zimbabwe is still a police state four years after the formation of the inclusive government.

Williams and Mahlangu were released late Wednesday, along with the other activists, after being held for two and a half hours Bulawayo Central Station. They were told they were being taken there to meet the police chief at Bulawayo Central Station, Inspector Rangwani. Following almost three hours of waiting, they were informed that the inspector was on leave and that no meeting would in fact occur. Mahlangu believes that this was an attempt to take her off the streets for two and a half hours in an effort to prevent the protest. Williams, worried that something worse could have happened, thanked Zimbabweans for their concern over their welfare. Subsequently, WOZA has lodged a complaint letter against the Bulawayo police, accusing them of both tribalism and selective application of the law. Williams also reiterated that demonstrations will continue until government moves forward to the All Stakeholders Conference and a referendum. WOZA is demanding that negotiations by the political parties come to an end, and Zimbabweans are allowed to decide their own Constitution.

The Action Support Center (ASC) expresses its solidarity and support for the efforts of WOZA. In August 2012, WOZA and a number of other groups and delegations were a part of the Zimbabwean Learning Exchange facilitated by ASC, which reflected on the constitution making process, the implications of a contested constitutional referendum and an election process without a clear constitutional framework in place.

The ASC would reiterate the resolutions of the Declaration, which are to:

  • Invigorate efforts to end the abuse of the rights of citizens, the marginalisation of people from decision making and unaccountable leadership, the misuse of public funds, and all forms of autocratic and militarised behaviour, particularly in Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
  • Pledge solidarity with the struggles of the people across the region and commit ourselves to finding ways of building unity and cohesion between progressive forces.

Issued by the ASC

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