By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
13 February 2014
Police assaulted several members of the Women in Zimbabwe Arise pressure group as they left parliament after submitting a petition.
Police, clad in anti-riot gear, accused the peaceful marchers of demonstrating without permission, before beating them up with truncheons.
“We had gone to deliver our demands to parliament when the police said we had no permission to do so. I explained to them that the new constitution allows us,” Magodonga Mahlangu told SW Radio Africa on the Big Picture programme.
Mahlangu said the police went away, only to return with reinforcements and descended on the WOZA members as they were dispersing from parliament.
“That’s how cowardly the police are, they were beating us from behind because they couldn’t even face us,” said the human rights defender.
None of the members were arrested.
Thursday’s march, ahead of the traditional WOZA Valentine’s Day peaceful demos on Friday, was to protest the corruption and looting of public resources by public officials.
“This year we are calling for public officials to revisit the spirit of ubuntu or ‘I am because we are’, and realise that they represent people, and should respect their own and other people’s dignity.”
Mahlangu said WOZA members are shocked by revelations’ of obscene salaries being earned by office bearers in parastatals, which she said had led to the collapse of the economy.
“We are demanding the implementation of the constitution to promote accountability. The constitution can provide much needed dignity to citizens and empower them with ways to check theft of public finance and corruption.
“The new charter also provides for free primary education but right now millions of children from poor backgrounds have been excluded from school following the discontinuation of the Basic Education Assistance Model,” she said.
WOZA has given parliament until the end of this year to fully implement the constitution.
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