WOZA had Valentine’s Day a day earlier


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Police in Harare and Bulawayo on 13 February 2007 arrested more than 250 participants in peaceful demonstrations staged by Women of Zimbabwe Arise to protest against the country’s worsening political and economic crisis.

WOZA had decided to hold its annual Valentine’s Day campaign a day earlier.

An estimated 2000 WOZA supporters participated in the group’s annual campaign in the two cities.

WOZA reported that it was their largest demonstrations to date.

Police used tear gas to disperse marchers in Harare and reportedly assaulted several marchers while breaking up the demonstration in Bulawayo.

WOZA National Coordinator Jenni Williams told United States embassy officials that the group in Harare dispersed on its own after 15 minutes of singing slogans and dancing.

In Bulawayo police arrested 274 marchers and heavily assaulted several individuals while breaking up the demonstration.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE123, POLICE ARREST SCORES OF WOMEN AND STUDENTS TO

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE123

2007-02-15 09:09

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8477

PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0123/01 0460909

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 150909Z FEB 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1133

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1473

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1329

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1477

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0168

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0738

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1103

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1531

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3927

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1300

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1956

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1694

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000123

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR M. COPSON AND E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: POLICE ARREST SCORES OF WOMEN AND STUDENTS TO

THWART PROTESTS

 

 

1. (U) Summary. Police in Harare and Bulawayo on February 13

arrested more than 250 participants in peaceful

demonstrations staged by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) to

protest the country’s worsening political and economic

crisis. An estimated 2,000 WOZA supporters participated in

the group’s annual Valentine’s Day Campaign in the two

cities; WOZA reported that it was their largest

demonstrations to date. Police used tear gas to disperse

marchers in Harare and reportedly assaulted several marchers

while breaking up the demonstration in Bulawayo. On the same

day, Harare police also arrested 50 students participating in

a Zimbabwe National Student’s Union (ZINASU) meeting to

discuss skyrocketing tuition fees. The strong response by

police comes in the wake of ongoing and looming labor actions

across key sectors. End Summary.

 

———————————————

WOZA Delivers Valentine’s Message A Day Early

———————————————

 

2. (U) In Harare, the WOZA march with about 1,000

participants started in front of the United Nations

Development Programme’s (UNDP) offices where earlier that

morning WOZA leaders had delivered a copy of its “People’s

Charter” to UN representatives asking for support in

pressuring the government for social justice. The march

continued to Parliament where police in riot gear met the

group with tear gas.

 

3. (SBU) WOZA National Coordinator Jenni Williams told poloff

that despite 15 minutes of singing slogans and dancing, the

group dispersed on its own. A small number of WOZA

supporters continued on toward ZANU-PF headquarters, but

decided to stop when approached by police with dogs. During

the course of the march, police arrested eight women.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyer Otto Saki

told us they were released the following day after paying

admission of guilt fines.

 

4. (U) The WOZA demonstration in Bulawayo also involved

roughly 1,000 marchers. However, it met with a much harsher

response. Williams told us police arrested 274 marchers and

heavily assaulted several individuals while breaking up the

demonstration. The authorities appeared more prepared in

Bulawayo. A large number of police were present from the

start of the march and toward its conclusion riot police

swooped in and brutally beat up a number of the marchers.

Saki told us that ZLHR lawyers had managed to contact 83

persons in police custody and that charges were still pending

against those detained.

 

————————————-

Students Protest Hike In Tuition Fees

————————————-

 

5. (U) On the same day as the WOZA marches, Harare police

also arrested 50 students at Harare Polytehnical College for

participating in a meeting to discuss tuition fees that were

increased in some instances by 2,000 percent to Z$560,000

(about US$110 using the parallel exchange rate) at State

universities for the 2007 first semester.

 

6. (SBU) According to press reports, ZINASU representatives

claimed that approximately 80,000 of the 250,000 university

and college students throughout the country have dropped-out

 

HARARE 00000123 002 OF 002

 

 

over the past year as a result of the unaffordable fees.

Saki told poloff that police had released all but 12 of the

ZINASU leaders, who had been charged under the Crimes against

Public Order Act for unlawful assembly and disorderly

conduct. He added that police intelligence officials were

interviewing the student leaders.

 

——–

Comment

——–

 

7. (U) The strong response by police occurs in a charged

atmosphere of ongoing and looming labor actions in key

sectors. Junior doctors have been out on strike over poor

wages since December and medical care at State hospitals has

suffered immensely. Additionally, some teachers at secondary

schools are participating in a “go-slow” action, university

lecturers are threatening to strike and university students

are planning protests. There also are widespread rumors that

other civil servants may call for a stay-away and that junior

police and military officers are grumbling about walking off

the job rather than accept paupers’ wages.

 

8. (U) In a move to take advantage of this building momentum,

the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has announced

February 23 as the deadline for the government to improve

working and living conditions or risk more industrial

actions. ZCTU has been relatively inactive of late, however,

and it remains unclear if labor and civil society can pull

off effective and coordinated labor actions and keep the

momentum going. But the harsh police response in Harare and

Bulawayo demonstrates how concerned the government is by the

demonstrations*and by the increasing number of participants.

SCHULTZ

 

(2 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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