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Women of Zimbabwe Arise Members Launch New Protests in Midlands Capital Gweru

The activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise brought the central business district of Gweru to a halt just before midday on Monday as members marched, sang songs and distributed flyers to passers-by before police broke up the demonstration.

Eyewitnesses said police flailed with batons at the mostly female demonstrators and a reporter estimated about 30 were taken to Gweru's central police station.

Gweru correspondent Taurai Shava of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

A lawyer representing members of WOZA and the group’s male counterpart, Men of Zimbabwe Arise, said those arrested today were likely to be arraigned Tuesday.

Hilary Garikai said the activists faced charges under the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act forbidding participation in “unlawful” gatherings. But Garikai said at least four of those arrested were ordinary Gweru residents arrested because they were seen reading copies of the so-called “people’s charter” the group distributed.

WOZA member Nolwanje Simunye, who demonstrated in Gweru, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that in spite of the arrests, organizers of the Bulawayo-group considered their first-ever Gweru protest a success.

Other WOZA sources said the group will be launching its “people’s charter” in other cities this week. At least 174 WOZA members and sympathizers were arrested when the activist group demonstrated in Harare and Bulawayo on Feb. 13.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...