The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Stulman (202) 507-4667

Leading South African Political Activist Ends 21-Day Hunger Strike in Solidarity with Zimbabwean People


Nomboniso Gasa, chair of
South Africa's Commission for Gender Equality, ended on Mar. 4 a 21-day
hunger strike that sought to draw international attention to Zimbabwe's
deteriorating humanitarian crisis and the detention of political

The South African political activist survived only on water for the
duration of the three-week hunger strike, which began on February 11.
The hunger strike was staged as a symbolic act of solidarity with the
people of Zimbabwe as the country experiences massive food shortages, a
deadly cholera epidemic, and ongoing political turmoil, despite the
signing of the Global Political Agreement and the formation of the
unity government.

The hunger strike is part of an international solidarity campaign,
"Save Zimbawe Now!" to mobilize public awareness and build pressure on
Southern African governments to influence the Zimbabwean government to
restore dignity, human and democratic rights to its people.

"I've always been involved in the political struggle since the
anti-apartheid movement and am acutely aware of the solidarity role of
others in bringing about change," said Ms. Gasa. "I and others in the
solidarity campaign are horrified that the South African government and
international community are not adequately responding to the
humanitarian crisis, torture and abuse of political detainees, and an
economy spiraling out of control."

Ms. Gasa is in New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women
meeting. She used her portion of the hunger strike relay as a platform
to highlight violence against women and the unique humanitarian
challenges faced by Zimbabwe women.

In mid-Feb., Gasa spent several days at a refugee camp for Zimbabwe
refugees on the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe where she witnessed
deplorable conditions and thousands waiting in limbo on whether to
return to their country.

Ms. Gasa completed the second leg of the relay fast and hunger strike
campaign from CIVICUS Honorary President Kumi Naidoo. She will hand
over the third leg of the relay fast to Dumisa Ntsebeza, a
distinguished human rights lawyer and member of South Africa's Truth
and Reconciliation Commission. Tens of thousands of activists around
the world have joined the fast relay in various ways as an act of

The campaign is urging the United Nations and international community
to step up pressure on the Zimbabwean government to end the political
passe, strengthen relief efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis,
and to release political prisoners.

A lifelong political activist and gender research analyis, Nomboniso
Gasa's first detention occurred during apartheid at age 14 in the
Western Cape. Since that time, she has tirelessly worked on human
rights for women and feminism in Africa. Her current research interests
include the de/constructions of cultural identities, masculinities,
intersections of unequal patriarchal power relations with gender and
other social inequalities.

Nomboniso Gasa will be available for interviews on her 21-day hunger
strike and the Save Zimbabwe Now! campaign. To schedule interviews,
contact Michael Stulman at or call
(202) 507-4667, mobile: 419-957-0429

For more information on the campaign, please visit

Africa Action is a national organization that works for political, economic and social justice in Africa. Through the provision of accessible information and analysis combined with the mobilization of public pressure we work to change the policies and policy-making processes of U.S. and multinational institutions toward Africa. The work of Africa Action is grounded in the history and purpose of its predecessor organizations, the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), The Africa Fund, and the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), which have fought for freedom and justice in Africa since 1953. Continuing this tradition, Africa Action seeks to re-shape U.S. policy toward African countries.