WOZA leaders beaten and arrested during peaceful Harare demo
By Alex Bell
The leaders of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were beaten and arrested on Thursday in Harare, after conducting a peaceful demonstration outside Parliament.
At least 20 members of the group had gathered outside parliament for the demonstration, with a list of demands for the new government and for local councils.
Their demands include 12 service delivery demands such as improving availability of water, swift response to sewerage bursts and blockages, provision of hawkers’ licenses and affordable vendor license fees to vendors and repair of community structures.
WOZA had 12 more demands for the new government which included accountability during the empowerment prgroamme, job availably and economy recovery. They also called for sufficient and attractive salaries for civil servants.
Before the demonstration, the group had said that it was also testing provisions in the new constitution, that allow for freedom of assembly and speech. But according to SW Radio Africa’s Harare correspondent, Simon Muchemwa the demonstration was short-lived.
“The protest did not last long and only five minutes after it began the police came and started rounding people up. Three WOZA leaders including Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu and another woman were arrested,” Muchemwa said.
Mahlangu was quoted by a Zim media group as saying that she was beaten before being arrested. Radio Dialogue reportedly spoke to the WOZA leader briefly after her arrest, but the call was disconnected after a few minutes.
It is understood that several other WOZA members were also beaten when the police descended on the group. Muchemwa explained that a number of people scattered after the police arrived on the scene.
A local journalist called Tawanda Karombo was caught up the ensuing chaos and was also picked up by the police. It was not clear by the end of Thursday if Karombo would face any charge.,
It is understood that the police targeted the WOZA group for allegedly holding an ‘unsanctioned’ demonstration.
Ironically, the demonstration was also meant to mark the international day of peace commemorated throughout the world on 21st September 2013.
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