Two women activists, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, remain jailed in a Bulawayo jail after a peaceful protest two weeks ago.

The women, members of WOZA, were part of a group demonstrating to pressure the government about aid going to destitute farmers. LINK

The KubatanaBlog describes the peaceful protest:
On arrival at the Government Complex, the group of approximately 200 sat down outside the gates whilst a delegation of four elderly women went in to request that the Regional Department Heads of all the service departments come out and address the crowd on what is being done to alleviate the humanitarian crisis facing the country.
The group sat peacefully waiting to be addressed for 45 minutes before five riot police approached the group. Two leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, were arrested and taken to Drill Hall, which is across the road from Mhlahlandlela. The rest of the group were forcibly dispersed by being beaten with baton sticks.

The women have been denied bail three times in a magistrate court, and their lawyers are petitioning a higher court to hear their case.

However, despite pressure from South African groups such as the South African Council of Churches and Amnesty International, the women remain in a substandard jail, and now have had visits limited to once a week.

The hope is still with the judiciary, which so far has managed to retain some judicial independence despite pressure from the government.

One doesn’t expect outside pressure to help the women. However, I’m sure do-gooders of all stripes will probably protest the planned sale of legal Ivory by the Zimbabwean government, the plight of the women, and of the estimated five million Zimbabweans who will need food aid while waiting for the recently planted crops to mature, aren’t getting much publicity.

The irony is that the sale of the ivory will be used to fund “conservation” of endangered wildlife, which essentially means hiring men with guns to stop local poachers from killing and eating the animals for food.

On the other hand, given the “diversion” of HIV medicine funds by the government, the money is more likely to be diverted to more useful uses, such as making Mugabe’s supporters rich.

Of course, those of us in the Philippines can’t point fingers. We’re waiting for the investigation of a certain politician who diverted a couple million dollars from a government fertilizer fund (to assist poor farmers to buy fertilizer for their fields).

Mugabe may be a thug, but he is an amateur next to our own homegrown politicians when it comes to graft.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Makaipa.blogspot 

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