Latest News and Update from Heal Zimbabwe

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating Human Rights Day, a day that is observed every year on the 10th of December. The day is historic in that it is the day that the United Nations General Assembly, adopted in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, creed, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

This year’s Human Rights Day celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day. In his statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, underscored the need for people around the world to stand for human rights.”Now more than ever, our shared duty is clear: Let us stand for human rights for everyone, everywhere”, he said.

For Zimbabwe, however, Human Rights day comes at a time when the country is eagerly waiting for the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the 1 August 2018 shootings that left seven people dead and several injured. The 1 August 2018 demonstration was on the delays in the announcement of election results. Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights states that “Human Beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right”. The right to life is inalienable and is a fundamental human right that must be enjoyed and celebrated by everyone. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Such regional and international human rights instruments compel nations to further upholding of human rights by enforcing and respecting laws that help in the realization and enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

For Zimbabwe, Human Rights Day must serve as a reminder to the government on the need to demonstrate political will and create a conducive environment where citizens enjoy fundamental human rights such as right to life that is explicitly provided for in Section 48 of the constitution. To demonstrate political will, the government must publicize reports by previous commissions such as the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe commissions that investigated the early 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities. In addition to this, the government must also publicize and act decisively on the report that will be released by the Commission set up after the 1 August 2018 army shootings. Government must also set up an independent complaints mechanism in compliance with section 210 of the constitution to allow members of the public to report misconduct on the part of members of the security services.

Community members in Rushinga have hailed the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and Heal Zimbabwe for conducting a dialogue on peace and reconciliation on 25 October 2018.The NPRC is mandated by Section 252 (b) to develop and implement programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe and the peaceful resolution of disputes. The dialogue meeting brought together representatives from political parties (ZANU PF, MDC-T and People’s Rainbow Coalition), church leaders, Traditional leaders, government, police, youths, women from the 25 wards of Rushinga District. Bringing together community members and various government stakeholders is an important process of building trust between the government and the citizens while building bridges among victims and perpetrators of past human rights violations and conflict.

 

The main purpose of the dialogue meeting was to promote social cohesion, peaceful co-existence, healing and reconciliation among the people of Rushinga District. The dialogue allowed community members to reflect and discuss on key issues that hinder the prevalence of peace in the District. In his opening remarks, NPRC Commissioner Charles Masunungure, highlighted the importance of the dialogue and noted that it helps community members to identify key issues that require healing and reconciliation and further encouraged participants to openly discuss such issues.”As the NPRC we hope that this dialogue will afford people in Rushinga an opportunity to openly discuss reconciliation issues in Rushinga District. We are mandated by Section 252 of the constitution to conduct activities that encourage people to tell the truth and promote national healing and reconciliation, “he said. Heal Zimbabwe Executive Director, Rashid Mahiya also echoed Commissioner Masunungure’s sentiments and highlighted that building peace was everyone’s responsibility. He also noted that the NPRC was supposed to conduct robust programmes in local communities that will help build peaceful and reconciled communities.”Heal Zimbabwe works with Commissions such as the NPRC and other key stakeholders such as Traditional leaders to achieve meaningful healing and reconciliation. NPRC must continue to partner CSOs such as Heal Zimbabwe that has community structures in the country’s 210 provinces for greater reach and impact”, he said.

 

Issues that came out during the dialogue meeting include the partisan distribution of food aid by some Traditional leaders, political labeling and partisan conduct by government representatives in Rushinga District. Participants also noted that unresolved conflicts especially from past electoral episodes such as 2008 and 2002 political violence continued to hinder the prevalence of peace in the area. Legislator for Rushinga, Tendai Nyabani acknowledged that dialogue among political parties was key in conflict resolution and highlighted that the dialogue meeting had come at the right time.”Let’s us all strive to build peace. I want also to thank NPRC and Heal Zimbabwe for convening such an important dialogue in Rushinga”, he said. Traditional leaders who attended the dialogue meeting also bemoaned the lack of respect for the Traditional leadership institution highlighting that the role they play in healing and reconciliation is often downplayed even by political parties. The most recurring issue that came out was on the need for the NPRC to decentralize to ward level so that communities can easily report cases and engage the commission on key reconciliation issues in compliance with is Section 252 (f) of the constitution. The dialogue meeting concluded with the setting up of an Interim Peace Committee made up of diverse stakeholders who include representatives from local government, church, women, youths and political parties. The role of the peace committee will be to identify and mediate conflicts in the area through dialogue. The peace committees will also  receive training in conflict mediation which will help improve their capacity.

 

Heal Zimbabwe, as a peace building organization, values its partnership with the NPRC towards a healed, reconciled and peaceful Zimbabwe. In the past, Heal Zimbabwe has raised communities’ awareness on the need for national healing and reconciliation. The organization also trained and established community infrastructures for peace such as Peace Clubs and Community Early Warning Committees as steps towards sustainable peace within local communities.  Towards the 2018 elections, HZT through the National Peace campaign dubbed 13 Million Voices for Peace, campaigned vigorously on the need for peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. As the NPRC rolls out its 5 year strategy, HZT commits its support to the Commission and to  continue working with various stakeholders who include, churches, youth and students bodies and political parties to promote collective prevention of violence and conflicts as a strategy for promoting sustainable peace.

 

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.  

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.

Community Peace clubs established by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe in Tsholotsho North wards 1,3,5 and 8 have intensified their campaign on the need for peace ahead of the 2018 elections. The peace clubs organized a series of collaborative neutral platforms (amalima) from 01-04 May 2018 with the aim of rallying community members to uphold peace ahead of the 2018 elections. The collaborative neutral platforms involved shelling of maize as well as road gulley filling exercises.

 As part of community feedback, the peace clubs reported that they had been monitoring ZANU PF primary elections and urging community members to uphold peace during the process. Issues that came out during the collaborative platforms include the threat of withdrawal of food aid from people who fail to voluntarily submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to Traditional leaders. “Here in Tsholotsho the collection of serial numbers has been subtle but yet Traditional leaders are only giving out food aid to community members who submit serial numbers”, said one Community member. Community peace clubs also reported that as part of target advocacy, they had already started engaging community leaders, political party leaders and youths who pledged for peace during previous sports for peace tournaments so as to amplify calls on the need for peaceful 2018 elections.

 Heal Zimbabwe also utilized the collaborative platforms to give feedback on the issues that came out during the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) stakeholder meetings that were carried out early in the year. Community members hailed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call for peace ahead of the elections but however were quick to point out that such progressive calls needed robust follow up actions such as  a truth telling process, reparations, erection of public memorials, facilitation of birth and death records for victims, offering public apologies and compensation on key reconciliation issues such as Gukurahundi.

 Heal Zimbabwe through its National Peace campaign will continue to campaign aggressively on the need for citizens to uphold peace before, during and after the 2018 elections.

 A Peace Club is a ward based community group of people who come together to promote peaceful coexistence in their communities. Peace club membership is drawn from diverse local community members that include traditional leaders, church leaders, women, youth, business people, people with disabilities and village health workers.

Rural women leaders who are part of Heal Zimbabwe community peace structures namely Community Action Accountability Teams (CAATs) and Women Safe Spaces for Reconciliation (WSSR) have agreed on a wide range of demands for free, fair and peaceful elections.

 This was agreed during a National Women’s Summit on elections conducted by Heal Zimbabwe on 27 April 2018 in Harare. The meeting brought together 250 rural women leaders from the 210 constituencies. The summit was held in pursuit of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (SCR1325), that recognizes the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and peace-building. The resolution also   stresses the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security. Some of the key provisions of this resolution include the need for increased participation and representation of women at all levels of decision-making and the need for attention to specific protection needs of women and girls in conflict.

 The women’s summit brought together various stakeholders who include Commissioners from Independent Commissions that support Democracy which are the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), legislators and Civil Society Organizations (CSOS). The main objective of the indaba was to afford rural women who are part of Heal Zimbabwe community peace structures an opportunity to meaningfully input in electoral processes in Zimbabwe and come up with minimum standards for the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections.

 In his opening remarks, Heal Zimbabwe Executive Director, Rashid Mahiya underscored the need for women to take up leadership roles and actively participate in electoral processes by not only voting but also running for political office. “Heal Zimbabwe will continue to work with women since they are key stakeholders in the attainment of peace and social cohesion. Added to this, women are capable leaders who can champion unity and peace in local communities..” he said.

 NPRC Commissioner, Netty Musanhu in her address highlighted that the NPRC has a Victims and Gender Committee responsible for investigating violations related to gender and further revealed that since women suffered the brunt of political violence, the NPRC was open to receive complaints through its complaints handling mechanism. “..There is need for women from across the political divide to unite and repel the forces of violence. Women are the worst affected by political violence, hence the need by the NPRC to work closely with women…” she said. Commissioner Musanhu also highlighted that the NPRC has taken note of the various reconciliation issues across the provinces during its stakeholder consultative meetings. She also acknowledged the immense role being played by rural women leaders to build peace and social cohesion in local communities.

 Other presenters such as Legislator Priscilla Misihairambwi and Concillia Chinanzvavana encouraged women to actively participate in electoral processes and also promised to continue to advocate for women’s rights in Parliament. Some of the issues that came out during the summit include the fact that most rural women are not aware of their human rights, there was increase in the demand of serial numbers by Traditional leaders and ZANU PF structures. Stakeholders noted that this form of intimidation discourages women from running for political office.

 The following are some of the minimum demands for free, fair, credible and peaceful elections agreed at the Women’s Summit on peace:

Ø  Independent commissions such as ZEC, ZHRC and NPRC must carry out robust awareness campaigns on the need for peace in rural communities ahead of the 2018 elections.

Ø  Political parties must make public pledges to uphold peace and report supporters who perpetrate violence to the police.

Ø  Traditional leaders must allow citizens and CSOs to campaign for peace in rural communities.

Ø  Traditional leaders must be apolitical and allow people to vote freely without being intimidated.

Ø  International observers must be deployed before elections so that they can also witness the rampant intimidation around the BVR process.

Ø  Soldiers and the police must not intimidate citizens but be there to serve and protect the rights of citizens.

Ø  All political parties must be afforded an opportunity to campaign freely and must have access to media.

Ø  The police must arrest all perpetrators of violence without fear or favor.

 Heal Zimbabwe through its National Peace campaign will continue to campaign aggressively on the need for citizens to uphold peace before, during and after the 2018 elections.

 As the 2018 plebiscite draws closer, political parties are scheduled to hold primary elections in the next coming days and weeks and Heal Zimbabwe calls upon them to uphold peace and tolerance through allowing the internal processes to be conducted in a free, fair and democratic manner.

As the date for ZANU PF primary elections fast approaches, Heal Zimbabwe has received reports of clashes among ZANU PF supporters. On 05 April 2018 in Goromonzi, ZANU PF top leaders among them Minister of Public service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Petronella Kagonye and businessman and party activist, Energy Mutodi stormed ZANU PF offices in the district and attempted to take over the process of receiving and vetting CVs for potential candidates. This then led to a standoff as some party members staged a protest. To date, similar clashes among ZANU PF supporters have been recorded in Mazowe West, Harare South, Epworth and Masvingo. The clashes come hardly a month after the party’s Political Commissar, Engelbert Rugeje called on party members to uphold peace and unity during primary elections.

In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe implores political parties to reign in on their supporters who perpetrate violence and come up with punitive measures that help deter violence. Political parties must also remain guided by the provisions of the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties which stipulates that NO political party or any of its members or supporters, and NO candidate or any of his or her supporters, may:

(a) Use violence, or threaten violence or incite or encourage the use of violence, against anyone on account of his or her political opinions or membership or support of a political party or participation in the election;

(b) Intimidate, or incite or encourage the intimidation, of anyone on account of his or her political opinions or membership or support of a political party; act in a way that may provoke violence or intimidation;

(c) Use violence or threats or illegal pressure to force voter to refrain from voting or to vote for a candidate or political party against his or her will;

(d) Force a voter to reveal the identity of the candidate voted for or take reprisals against a person because of the way in which he or she has voted or is believed to have voted.

 As the nation readies for elections, Heal Zimbabwe further calls on all political parties to take a leading role in campaigning for peace and tolerance. Under its National Peace campaign dubbed: 13 Million Voices for Peace aimed at campaigning for peaceful 2018 elections, Heal Zimbabwe will continue to advocate for peaceful elections. The organization’s trained human rights monitors shall be on high alert monitoring and reporting any human rights violations.

 

Community members in Gokwe, Mutoko, Murehwa, Mazowe, Makoni and Mbire have expressed concern over the continued involvement of Traditional leaders in partisan politics. This came out during a series of collaborative neutral platforms conducted by Heal Zimbabwe under its national peace campaign from 13 March to 13 April 2018. The objective of the collaborative platforms (nhimbes) was to raise awareness on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections.

The organisation through its 15 Community Peace Clubs, seven Women Safe Space for Reconciliation and two Community Based Organisations from the targeted districts mobilized community members to participate in nhimbes that included harvesting of crops, road gulley filling and clean up campaigns at schools and business centres. The nhimbes were attended by a total of nine Village heads, three Headmen, two Councillors, eight Ward Development Committee members (WADCO) and 11 Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members. A total of 880 community members were reached through the activities conducted. The nhimbes were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign: 13 Million Voices for Peace which seeks to raise public awareness on the need for peaceful participation in the upcoming 2018 elections.

Across the districts, community members who participated in the collaborative neutral platforms bemoaned the partisan nature of Traditional leaders which they noted as a hindrance to the attainment of peace and social cohesion. In some instances, Traditional leaders are forcing community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips and threatening to withdraw food aid from people who fail to comply. “We are living under fear here in Gokwe, Traditional leaders harass and intimidate us by threatening to deny us food aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare if we fail to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips”, said one community member from Gokwe.

Several community members who interacted with Heal Zimbabwe revealed that although they have reported some Traditional leaders to the local police, this has not deterred them as some are still carrying out the exercise. This is besides the fact that Section 281.1 (d) of the constitution points out that Traditional leaders must not; “violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person”. Community members further noted that because of the partisan nature of some Traditional leaders, communities were now living in fear and were worried that the secrecy of voting will be greatly compromised as elections draw near.

Heal Zimbabwe implores the Ministry of Local Government, Public works and National Housing to reign in on errant Traditional leaders who are meddling in partisan politics and violating fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens. Added to this, Political parties must desist from abusing Traditional leaders but rather use them as avenues to build tolerance and social cohesion in local communities. HZT has since forwarded all cases of human rights violation to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).

A Peace Club is a ward based community group of people who come together to promote peaceful coexistence in their communities. Peace club membership is drawn from diverse local community members that include traditional leaders, church leaders, women, youth, business people, people with disabilities and village health workers.

 

Heal Zimbabwe applauds the move by Independent Commissions particularly the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to set up a special committee made up of independent commissions and the police to facilitate swift handling of political violence cases. HZT views such a move as positive as it helps to reduce cases of politically motivated violence as the nation prepares for the 2018 elections.

 During an interview with the Sunday mail, ZEC Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said that: “The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has gone on record to condemn all forms of violence. We have also created dispute mechanisms to take care of that. “Political parties have a code of conduct which prevents them from electoral violence. They have agreed that they will enforce their own code of conduct. “The judiciary system has set up fast track courts that deal with politically motivated violence and we also need the police to investigate and send dockets to the courts on time. In fact, there are now special prosecutors and magistrates have been appointed to specially deal with such cases.”

 Justice Chigumba further revealed that the new mechanisms help victims of political violence to report freely. “What we need to do is to disseminate information or people to report, because nothing can be done if a report is not made. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is also playing a key role. “We will do it at a coordinated approach and form a special committee. It will be done at a national level but we will cascade it to provincial and district levels and say this is what we will be doing, she said.

 ZHRC deputy chairperson, Dr Ellen Sithole also underscored the willingness of the ZHRC to investigate cases of violence and deploy teams in communities. “The ZHRC also has an investigative mandate. The commission can investigate the conduct of any authority or person, where it is alleged that any of the human rights and freedoms set out in the Declaration of Human Rights (Chapter 4 of the Constitution) has been violated by that authority or person”, she said

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that such efforts will go a long way to address political violence which has remained a permanent feature during elections. While Heal Zimbabwe views this as a positive step towards minimising politically motivated violence, it is imperative to note such arrangements must be followed by the full implementation of constitutional provisions such as Section 210 that protect citizens against abuse by members of the security services. This section provides for an Independent Complains mechanism with a responsibility to receive and investigate complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct. Also of paramount importance is the fact that independent commissions must decentralise their activities to ward and village level so that their services can be accessed by local communities.

 In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores independent commissions to continue working hand in glove with civic organisations since CSOs are extensively involved in monitoring, detecting and reporting timeously to cases of human rights violations.

Click on the link below to download the Pathways to Peace and Reconciliation publication

Issue 1 -Reconciliation Pathways

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