Some journalists and members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise were briefly held by police in Harare on Wedneday following a protest over President Robert Mugabe’s recent jibe on the Kalanga people.
More than 500 placard-carrying members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise or Woza on Wednesday staged a peaceful demonstration outside parliament protesting against President Mugabe’s utterances at the end of a special SADC summit on industrialization where he said Kalangas were very notorious in South Africa and were known to be crooks because they are not educated enough to get decent jobs.
Some of the placards read, “No to tribal discrimination, Mugabe must apologize”.
Woza coordinator Jenni Williams said Mr. Mugabe’s remarks were demeaning to the Kalanga people and likened it to the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s where more than 20 000 people were allegedly killed by his North Korean trained Fifth Brigade.
One of the demonstrators Rudo Mativenga said Mr. Mugabe’s remarks were not fair to the Kalanga people and as a result the president should make a national apology.
After only a few minutes of the protest, heavily armed police officers pounced on the protestors and assaulted them. In the process, Williams and another Woza activist, Tambudzai Manangazira, were taken for questioning by police officers manning the parliament building.
They, together with four journalists, were held for some time before they were released without any charge.
Later, Williams condemned the force that was used by the police to crash the protest.
After the police broke the protest, the protestors later regrouped and submitted a copy of their petition to the Human Rights Commission.
The activists said they were told by officers at the commission the petition would be forwarded to Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who doubles as the country’s first vice president.
They added that the officials claimed that the rights body had no power to investigate Mr. Mugabe.
But Willams tells Studio 7 that her organization will do all it can to ensure that the Human Rights Commission fulfills its constitutional mandate.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr. Mnangagwa were unfruitful.
The Woza petition submitted to both parliament and the Human Rights Commission urged Mr. Mugabe to unequivocally retract his statement denigrating the Kalanga people.
The activists urged the president to use his position as chairperson of both SADC and the African Union to promote unity of the African people.