In an act of barbarism, police descended on the Harare World Aids Day march on Thursday 1 December, and ordered the marchers to disperse. Five of the protest's organisers were arrested and have not yet been released. These are Munyaradzi Gwisai of the International Socialist Organisation, Mao Nyikadzino of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Sostain Moyo of Zimbabwe Activists Against Aids and Anna and Gladys from the Women Aids Support Network (WASN).
The sad irony is that the police had given clearance for the march and a gathering in the Africa Unity Square. On the day they turned around and said that the proceedings could not go ahead and worse still arrested people. It now seems clear that they set a trap to waylay people.
The success of this Thursday’s action is very inspiring. Hundreds of us marched on the streets of Harare singing and raised our banners for over 30 minutes. Banners demanded access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and carried the demands of Action Against Poverty. These included a living wage for workers, fuel, affordable sanitary pads and baby milk and a reduction in taxation.
People also called for transparency on the Aids levy. This is made up of painful contributions from workers, but has been looted by some heartless regime bureaucrats. There was a significant presence of NCA activists calling for a new people-centred constitution.
Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights are busy trying to get the arrested comrades released. We are asking supporters to bombard the police station with calls and faxes demanding the release of those in police custody.
Phone Harare Central Police Station 00 263 733033, 00 263 721212, 00 263 721231 and 00 263 725803
Phone the Minister of Home Affairs 00 263 723635, 00 263 703642 and 00 263 703644