Magazine article New Internationalist

'The Power of Love Can Conquer the Love of Power'

Magazine article New Internationalist

'The Power of Love Can Conquer the Love of Power'

Article excerpt

Chaos and repression in Zimbabwe have spread fear and despondency, leading many to flee the country. But a remarkable group of women has refused to concede. 'WOZA was formed as a litmus test,' they say, 'to prove that the power of love can conquer the love of power... Political leaders in Zimbabwe need some discipline; who better to dish it out than mothers!'

WOZA - an Ndebele word meaning 'Come forward' - was formed in 2003 and now has a countrywide membership of over 35,000 women and men. Based on the principles of 'strategic nonviolence', it aims to create a space for Zimbabweans to articulate issues they might be too fearful to raise alone. It conducted more than 50 protests in its first three years - over 2,500 women spent time in police custody. In August 2006 Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) was added to the structure of WOZA. Men, mostly youthful, 'came forward' to join the non-violent struggle.

During 2006, in 284 meetings across the country, almost 10,000 rural and urban people told WOZA what they wanted in a new Zimbabwe. The result was a People's Charter.

It says: 'Zimbabweans are living in a state of fear and uncertainty. They suffer discrimination in all its forms and are unable to earn a living. Levels of poverty are high; unemployment is at 82 per cent and inflation at four figures. Non-existent service delivery also makes life difficult. Access to education, housing and other basic needs is now only for the rich. The HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has created thousands of orphans and child-headed households, is a social catastrophe compounded by a failed healthcare system. Further loss of valuable human resources is happening due to people leaving the country in large numbers. People have been unsuccessful at holding their government accountable due to a raft of repressive laws and shrinking freedom of expression/media space. Corruption at all levels of government and the politicization of all aspects of society have led to chaos and disorganization in every sector.'

Here are some recent examples of WOZA activities:

* On 11 June 2007 over 100 rural members of WOZA were arrested in Filabusi, the administrative centre for Insiza District, at the launch of the People's Charter in that area. …

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