The 'Power to the People' campaign organised by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) spread to Harare on Monday 23 April. Protesters assembled in the morning and held simultaneous ‘tough love’ protests at offices of state power company, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), in Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Zengeza. Over 470 members from 10 different areas of Harare took part.
The campaign is against frequent Zesa power cuts. A Woza spokesperson said, 'People are tired of living in darkness but at the same time being forced to pay high Zesa tariffs'.
The protests at Warren Park and Zengeza passed without incident and the participants were able to disperse before police arrived, but in Kuwadzana eyewitnesses reported that the police arrived brandishing guns, and 56 members of Woza – 36 women, 20 men and 10 babies – were arrested.
Lawyers have been denied access and Woza supporters trying to take in food were only allowed access at 9pm. They noted that many members were bloodstained and had clearly been assaulted by police. Threats of beheading were made against those bringing food but no one who delivered food the following morning was harmed.
A Woza statement said, 'Many thanks to all those who have been phoning in support of Woza's Power to the People campaign. Feedback indicates that Luveve and Tshabalala quickly stopped answering calls although some managed to get through on Thursday night; no one seems to be getting through to Bulawayo Central. Here are some alternative numbers for your to try. Power to the people!'
The numbers are:
- Police commisioner Augustine Chihuri +263 250008/792621/ 700171
- Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi +263 11-605424/ 430422/ 794628/ 703695 text him +263 11-605424
- State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa +263 11200532-774189
- And keep trying Harare Central Police Station on +263 4 777777 especially if you are able to call at unusual hours.