Baton-wielding Zimbabwe riot police waged a brutal crackdown Tuesday on Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) demonstrators in Bulawayo, with witnesses saying dozens of people were injured.
Bulawayo residents mainly women had gathered by the ZESA Western Region offices to sign the “anti abuse of power petition” to express their frustration at the persistent daily 18 hour power cuts. The protest was aimed at the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) for what WOZA termed was daylight robbery by the utility company.
The protesters were demanding that ZETDC should stop cheating fixed meter consumers, provide proper timetables of load shedding and urgently put in place a proper and transparent billing system. They chanted slogans, calling for justice, freedom and urgent social reforms.
If successful the move by Women of Zimbabwe Arise and Men of Zimbabwe Arise would have been the second successive petition to be signed by Zimbabwean citizens after the much adored anti-sanctions petition directed towards the West.
“Sign the anti-abuse of power petition and join others calling for prepaid meters and more affordable electricity! Help us and yourselves to say hokoyo to ZESA by giving them a yellow card and signing the anti abuse of power petition”, that was the message from WOZA.
Our correspondent Khabo Mnkandla who interviewed some residents says during a brief interview a frustrated male resident said, “Shouldn’t the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe be courageous like WOZA and MOZA, ngapha impahla zeChina zisithwalele ubhulo nansi layo iZESA. Kakusima G.M.O kuphela asihluphayo. Asikho ndawo isibili.”
A statement issued by WOZA after the crackdown said one of those injured was their co-coordinator Jenni Williams. No arrests were made and WOZA said all the injured had been assessed and attended to.