Jenni Williams and Magodonga ("Magi") Mahlangu have done nothing illegal. But if convicted, the two women could face up to 5 years in prison.
The women, leaders of the organization Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), were arbitrarily arrested last October during a protest that called on the government to equally distribute scarce food aid among Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe is a country in turmoil. But a power-sharing agreement struck between two rival political parties could mean a new chance for a country to right itself. Yet, this unity government, as it's called, has failed to prioritize human rights as a necessity in achieving stability.
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister is in the U.S. this week to push for restoration of humanitarian aid to help pull his country from the brink of utter collapse. But the U.S. and the rest of the international community are looking for evidence that Zimbabwe is ready to leave its deep path of violence and intolerance behind before they will agree to restore any aid.
Just this week, authorities in Zimbabwe conditionally freed three political prisoners who had been detained since December. This is a welcome development, but the government must go further. It must stop harassing, torturing and jailing activists who only seek a better tomorrow for Zimbabwe – activists like Jenni Williams and Magi Mahlangu.