Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Peace. The commemorations this year are running under the theme, “The Right to Peace-The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”. The theme for this year celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides among many rights, the right to freedom from torture and access to justice. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an elaborate document that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th December 1948 in Paris.
In his message on this an historic day, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, underscored the need for all nations to uphold the provisions enunciated in the UDHR.”“It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race. This year marks the 70th anniversary of that landmark document.” he said.
Article 5 of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights highlights that, “Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited”. Such a provision compels member states like Zimbabwe to cultivate a culture of upholding the fundamental human rights and freedoms such as freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Chapter 232 of the constitution of Zimbabwe establishes Independent Commissions particularly the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) whose mandate as enunciated in Section 252 (b) is to “develop and implement programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe and the peaceful resolution of disputes”.
Heal Zimbabwe commends the NPRC for embarking on national consultative meetings that sought to engage stakeholders on issues of national healing and reconciliation in the past, in fact, the critical need for a comprehensive healing and reconciliation process remains urgent.The snail’s pace with which the NPRC is carrying out its constitutional mandate such as ensuring post -conflict justice, healing and reconciliation is not only worrying but frustrating given that the nation is in dire need of healing and reconciliation. It is Heal Zimbabwe’s view that by now, NPRC would have commenced in earnest tackling key reconciliation issues such as Gukurahundi and the 2008 violence among others.
On the occasion of the International Day of Peace, Heal Zimbabwe implores the NPRC to urgently address reconciliation issues that were raised by stakeholders during consultative meetings earlier this year. Added to this, the NPRC must swiftly move in to tackle contentious reconciliation issues such as Gukurahundi in compliance with Section 252 (c) of the constitution that stipulates that the NPRC must “bring about national reconciliation by encouraging people to tell the truth about the past and facilitating the making of amends and the provision of justice”
Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. This special day is commemorated annually on the 30th of August. The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances was passed under resolution 65/209 on 21 December 2010 which expressed great concern on the rising cases of involuntary disappearances. This culminated into the adoption of the International Convention for the protection of all Persons of Enforced Disappearances where 30 August was declared as the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. The Convention recognizes the right of victims and their families to know the truth regarding the circumstances and fate of the disappeared person.
The commemoration of this important day serves to remind states on the need to enact specific laws that protect citizens against the crime of enforced disappearance. This can only be achieved through investigating reports of enforced disappearance and bringing those responsible to justice. Other obligations are rather of a preventive nature, such as the obligation to detain persons only in officially approved and monitored institutions in which all prisoners are registered and the absolute right to legal services through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention.
Article 1 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance highlight that “no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance”. Enforced Disappearances remain a crime that is not only degrading but generate insecurity among affected persons. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) (also known as the Banjul Charter), a regional human rights instrument is also an instrument intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms on the African continent. Article 4 of the ACHPR highlight that “human rights are inviolable” hence every human being shall be entitled to respect for life and integrity. Further to this, Article 23 of the charter also highlight that “all people shall have the right to national and international peace and security”.
What is rather disturbing is that besides all these international and regional legal instruments that prohibit enforced disappearances, Zimbabwe as a nation with a long history of enforced disappearances has not ratified key conventions that speak to issues relating to state obligations in as far as prevention of enforced disappearance of citizens is concerned. Conventions that Zimbabwe is yet to ratify include the United Nations Convention against Torture or Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT), the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearances as well as the Rome Stature among others.
To date, Pro Democracy activist, Itai Dzamara who was abducted on 9 March 2015, remains unaccounted for. The occasion of this year’s commemoration of this important day in Zimbabwe offers an opportunity for the Government to expedite the search for Missing persons particularly Itai Dzamara whose search was ordered by the High Court. Abductions remain a gross human rights violation that must be condemned as it is not only degrading but barbaric and a bad practice. Enforced disappearances remain a serious violation of human rights and a crime. Section 53 of the Constitution provides for Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such fundamental human rights and freedoms are to be enjoyed by every citizen without selective application.
Heal Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest terms the use of live ammunition by security services against members of the public who were protesting against alleged electoral theft. On the 1st of August 2018, Zimbabwe Republic Police had running battles with citizens who had marched to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Headquarters (ZEC) as well as the National Elections Command Center housed at the Rainbow Towers Hotel where results were being announced. Along the way, the protestors clashed with the police who prevented them from entering the hotel resulting in a series of running battles. As the chaos intensified, soldiers were then deployed and dispersed the protestors by firing live bullets. In the melee that ensued, three people lost their lives, several injured and property was damaged. The Harare Central Business Centre descended into a war zone as security services used tear smoke to disperse protestors.
While Heal Zimbabwe does not condone violence during demonstration especially by members of the public, the use of live ammunition by the security services is not only barbaric and uncalled for but deplorable especially coming from security services who according to section 208 (2d) must not violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person. Heal Zimbabwe expected the security services to find peaceful and non-violent means to amicably resolve concerns raised by protestors. Added to this, the right to petition and demonstrate is explicitly provided for in Section 59 of the constitution.
As the nation eagerly waits for the election results, Heal Zimbabwe implores citizens to exercise peaceful conduct and not resort to violence. Security services must also do everything within their power to ensure that they abide by the constitution which stipulates in Section 206 (a) that they must have utmost respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms and the democratic values and principles enshrined in the constitution. Political parties must also not incite their supporters to resort to violence but rather remain guided by the Peace Pledge that was signed by all political parties on 26 June 2018.
In a move that is aimed at ensuring that peace and tolerance prevails ahead of elections, Heal Zimbabwe through its National Peace campaign dubbed,”13 Million Voices for Peace” scaled up its collaborative neutral platforms. The platforms sought to encourage political parties, youths and ordinary citizens to uphold peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 plebiscite.
From 21-28 July 2018, the organization initiated a series of collaborative platforms that include road shows, Sports for Peace concerts and peace concerts. The concerts provided an opportunity for aspiring candidates to pledge for peace publicly and that commit to shun political violence. Heal Zimbabwe initiated peace concerts in Bulawayo, Harare, Gwanda, Gweru, Chipinge, Zaka and Gokwe. Several aspiring candidates from various political parties appreciated the importance of peace and vowed to uphold it during their rigorous campaigns. To date, the organisation through its early warning and early response committees has noted that several aspiring candidates in areas where the organisation initiated peace concerts such as Gokwe, Zaka, Chipinge and Bikita have preached peace during their campaigns.
Added to this, through Youth Sports for Peace tournaments, community peace clubs engaged youths from various political parties who participated in sports for peace tournaments. Peace tournaments were conducted in Tsholotsho, Gokwe, Murehwa, Mutoko, Zaka, Chipinge, Mutasa, Makoni, Rushinga, Bikita and Gutu. At these tournaments, youths were able to build tolerance and discussed its importance ahead of elections. The need to engage youths for peace initiatives was informed by the fact that in past elections, youths have been used as merchants of violence by politicians. Community Peace clubs have reported that youths from various areas where peace tournaments were conducted, have embraced peace tournaments and have been carrying out regular sports for peace tournaments in a bid to build peace ahead of the elections.
As a way of responding to reports from various local communities where they fingered some Traditional Leaders as perpetrators of human rights violations ahead of elections, the organisation conducted several Traditional leaders trainings in areas such as Mazowe, Muzarabani, Mbire, Bikita, Zaka, Mutasa and Mutoko. The objective of the trainings were to conscientize Traditional leaders on the importance of peace and their constitutional responsibilities such as not violating the fundamental human rights and freedoms of any person as enunciated in Section 281 (d) of the constitution. Generally, some of the Traditional leaders highlighted that the incessant pressure from some political parties forced them to engage in human rights violations and further highlighted that in some cases they have been threatened that if they fail to comply with directives, they were going to lose their posts. The majority of traditional leaders promised to encourage people within their villages to promote peaceful coexistence.
As the nation goes for polls tomorrow, Heal Zimbabwe continues to call on political parties to shun violence and adhere to principles set out in the Political Parties code of conduct that criminalize acts of intimidation and violence. Political parties must also enforce the peace pledge that was facilitated by the NPRC in a bid to promote collective prevention of violence and conflicts as a strategy for promoting lasting peace. Heal Zimbabwe through its national peace campaign dubbed, 13 Million Voices for Peace will continue to campaign rigorously for peace even after the 2018 plebiscite.
Heal Zimbabwe recorded a total of 82 human rights violations from 23 districts. Bikita, Hurungwe and Buhera recorded the highest number of human rights violations with 10 cases each. Bikita and Buhera recorded the highest number of human rights violations in the previous report together with Muzarabani, and Mt Darwin which recorded 6 cases each. The recurrence of human rights violations in Bikita, Mt Darwin and Buhera instill fear among communities which negatively impacts on the free participation and expression of citizens’ rights in the upcoming elections.
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On 14 July 2018, Heal Zimbabwe in collaboration with Women Institute for Leadership Development (WILD), Emtonjeni Women’s Forum (EWF), Habakkuk Trust, Christian Alliance, National Youth Development Trust (NYDT), and Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) launched a Get out and Vote campaign in Bulawayo. The objective of the campaign is to mobilize citizens to go out and vote on 30 July 2018 and upholding peace and political tolerance. The campaign launch saw several artists taking part in a peace concert where they also added their voice on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. The concert was attended by approximately 5000 people mainly youths.
Before the concert commenced, a representative from Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) took time explain the process of voting and emphasized on the secrecy of the ballot. This helped dispel rumours that characterize the voting process. The major highlight of the concert was when aspiring candidates pledged for peace and vowed to play their part in ensuring that the 2018 elections will be peaceful. The aspiring candidates also encouraged community members to exercise political tolerance and highlighted that this was critical especially during campaigns.”As aspiring candidates let’s encourage our supporters to uphold peace and tolerance. Building peace must be everyone’s responsibility”, said one aspiring candidate. Ordinary citizens particularly youths from various political parties also pledged for peace and vowed to shun violence as elections draw closer.
The launch in Bulawayo come at a time when the organization has intensified its campaigns on peace by using various initiatives such as Sports for Peace Tournaments, collaborative neutral platforms (nhimbes) and peace concerts in a bid to raise awareness on the need for peace. These campaigns seek to mobilize citizens to commit and play an active role in ensuring that peace prevails before, during and after the 2018 elections.
This baseline study is one of Heal Zimbabwe Trust’s contribution towards remedying the residual effects of past human rights violations. A thorough consideration of concerns raised in this report and its recommendations undoubtedly support the construction of a socially cohesive nation that enjoys tolerance, peace, and prosperity at all tiers of the society. We provide expanded facts about Zimbabwean communities’ perceptions about what constitutes peace, healing and reconciliation while establishing an ideal framework for the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). Heal Zimbabwe Trust will continue to support research into all types of conflicts, across all communities, emphasizing areas which we believe have significant peace and human rights improving potential.
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Heal Zimbabwe notes the increase in cases of violence among political parties as elections draw closer. On 11 July 2018, one person reportedly died while several others were injured when violence broke out in Chitungwiza after suspected ZANU PF activists assaulted residents accusing them of supporting MDC Alliance President, Nelson Chamisa. Heal Zimbabwe has also recorded several cases of assault and intimidation mostly in Masvingo Province, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West. This is despite the fact that political parties participating in the elections signed a peace pledge on 26 June 2018 where they committed themselves to a peaceful campaign before, during and after elections.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that while this was a progressive step aimed at inculcating a culture of peace and tolerance, the escalation of cases of violence is a betrayal of the historic peace pledge by political parties. Political parties must demonstrate sincerity on the need for peace by reigning in on supporters that perpetrate violence that seek to make the peace pledge of no effect.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), the broker of the peace pledge must without delay engage multiple stakeholders such as civil society in a bid to insulate citizens against acts of violence and intimidation ahead of the elections. This can be done by swiftly establishing effective early warning and early response systems that will help detect areas of potential conflicts, disputes and take appropriate action in compliance with section 252 (g) of the constitution. While the designating of trial magistrates to deal with cases of politically motivated violence by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is commendable, the magistrates must swiftly begin prosecuting people implicated in cases of politically motivated violence.
Added to this, there is also need to strengthen multi-party liaison committees right from the ward, district and up to national level. If strengthened, these committees can help minimize cases of violence as they are a form of conflict resolution mechanism among political parties. Further to this, political parties must uphold and adhere to principles set out in the Political Parties code of conduct that criminalizes acts of intimidation and violence.
Youths in Gokwe have vowed to shun political violence and participate in this year’s elections peacefully. This came out during a Sports for Peace tournament conducted by a community peace club that works with Heal Zimbabwe in Gokwe South at Svisvi Primary school on 7 July 2018.
The Sports for peace tournament brought together 10 soccer teams and 4 netball teams that battled it out for the coveted peace cup. Before the tournament kicked off, aspiring candidates took to the podium and took turns to pledge to uphold peace and tolerance before, during and after the 2018 elections. The major highlight of the tournament was when the captains of the participating teams vowed to continue to use sport as a tool to build peace and tolerance as elections draw close. “Thank you Heal Zimbabwe for conducting sports for peace tournaments in our area since 2015.Over the years we have improved our relations and tolerance levels even with teams that we did not get along too well because of different political affiliations. We will continue conducting these Sports for peace tournaments on our own to help preach message of peace”, said one of the team captains.
Community members who attended the sports tournament also echoed the youths’ sentiments on the need to preach the message of peace and further promised to support the youth’s to achieve such a goal. The sport tournament was conducted under the banner of Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign, #13MillionVoicesForPeace, a campaign that seeks to campaign and advocate for peaceful 2018 elections. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness on peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections.
Heal Zimbabwe will utilize the peace pledges by youths to hold them accountable in the event that they perpetrate violence. The Sports for peace campaign by Heal Zimbabwe come at a time when the organization has intensified its campaign for peace by using sports for peace tournaments and peace concerts in a bid to disperse message of peace and tolerance ahead of the elections. To date the organization has conducted such initiatives in areas such as Murehwa, Chipinge, Mutoko, Zaka, Rushinga, Tsholotsho and other areas.
Heal Zimbabwe has intensified its campaign for peace ahead of the 2018 elections. On the Saturday 30th of June 2018, Heal Zimbabwe trust and its community peace structures conducted a sports for peace tournament in Murehwa North ward 8, at Zhombwe Primary School. The tournament brought various community members from various political persuasions as well as aspiring candidates who led by example by pledging for peace and encouraged peaceful participation in the upcoming elections.
The tournament saw 7 soccer teams and 6 netball teams battling for the Sports for peace trophy. The major highlight of the sports for peace tournament was when all aspiring Council candidates from all political parties pledged for peace and publicly urged community members to shun violence ahead of elections. Speaking at the same occasion, Mashonaland East Proportionate Representative Member of Parliament Ms Spiwe Muchenje (MDC-T), emphasized the importance of peace and tolerance ahead of elections. “I would want to commend all political parties for this historic commitment, I encourage all aspiring candidates to ensure that they uphold their promise on the need to promote peace and tolerance ahead of elections”, she said. All the aspiring candidates who pledged for peace commended Heal Zimbabwe for the initiative and further highlighted that such a move was key in the attainment of peace ahead of elections.
Heal Zimbabwe will utilize the peace pledges to hold aspiring candidates to uphold peace in the event that they renege on their promise to preach message of peace and tolerance ahead of elections. The Sports for peace campaign by Heal Zimbabwe come at a time when the organisation has intensified its campaign for peace by using sports for peace tournaments and peace concerts in a bid to disperse message of peace and tolerance ahead of the elections.