On Wednesday, May 18th, six WOZA members were arrested for a peaceful protest in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. They have been accused of painting messages on the road—messages that read- “power to poor people,” “no lengthy load shedding” and “prepaid meters now!”
For the last five years, WOZA members employed an organizing strategy to end price gouging and corruption by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC). Extended blackouts and overbilling greatly impact the quality of life of Zimbabweans.
WOZA fears that these six members are being tortured. Their fear is merited. In March 2011, fourteen WOZA members were tortured while in custody. This morning these six women were denied food and access to their lawyers.
WOZA has asked us for help. They would like us to call the Western Commonage police station +263 9 403996 and request to speak with Assistant Inspector Purazeni, the officer-in-charge. The Standard Time difference is GMT +2 hours. When you speak with him ask him to abide by international standards of detention. WOZA has also suggested that we call the Law and Order Department at +263 9 72515 and implore their protection of the basic human rights of these activists.
When Jenni Williams, the co-founder of WOZA, spoke to Spark earlier this year, she told us that flooding the police station with calls is one of the few strategies that can protect her members from certain beatings and torture. A clogged phone line becomes a nuisance and the police release their detainees with greater expediency to avoid the hassle.
Please join Spark in being a nuisance. Tell us how your calls are going and we will continue to provide updates.
Let’s speak up for the women of WOZA.