WOZA members protest to demand resumption of Constitutional reform
By Tererai Karimakwenda
Members of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) held a surprise demonstration in Bulawayo on Monday, to demand the immediate resumption of the stalled Constitutional reform process.
WOZA coordinator Jenni Williams told SW Radio Africa that their members are tired of the political parties bickering and posturing, without resolving any of the key issues that are affecting the daily lives of Zimbabweans.
“We wanted to send a clear signal reminding the politicians that we want our draft. What they have done is like stealing sweets from someone’s mouth. They gave us the Copac draft which was not everything we wanted and we were ready to put disappointment aside and look at the positive sides,” Williams explained.
Regarding the demonstrations, Williams said they managed to complete five separate demos without any interference from the police, who usually disrupt the processions using brute force and arresting WOZA members. The group had not sought police clearance either, but Jenni said the current laws do not require this.
She said although the Copac draft is far from what they wanted in a new constitution there were enough issues that resonated with their members to warrant their support. After years of negotiations, WOZA members feel the process must move to the Second All stakeholders Conference and a referendum.
“We were disappointed mostly with the issue of citizenship because there is such a large Diaspora of Zimbabweans out there that send money and could help to develop this country. We want the Tererai’s of the world to be able to return and contribute to that development with their skills,” Williams said.
She said she did not agree with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who at the weekend told supporters that the Copac draft included issues like dual citizenship and devolution. “The citizenship issue was not made clear. It should have been clarified much more and we were disappointed with that,” Williams said.
She however added that the negotiators should be commended for having made “a good start” on the issue of devolution, but did not go far enough. “They should have removed the phrase that says Zimbabwe is a unitary state and instead used devolved, because Zimbabweans do not want a centralised state,” Williams said.
But Williams said they would vote Yes on the Copac draft because it contains enough of what they wanted.
According to Williams, WOZA members will not take part in any election that is held without key reforms being implemented first.
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