Latest News and Update from Heal Zimbabwe

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.

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Issue 1 -Reconciliation Pathways

Heal Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest terms the use of violence against innocent civilians and journalists by the police which resulted in loss of life and injuries in Harare last night. On 22 February 2018, police officers had running battles with vendors and kombi drivers following a ban by the Ministry of Local Government prohibiting kombis from entering the central business district (CBD). This resulted in the police using teargas canisters and firing live bullets on unarmed civilians.  A total of three civilians lost their lives and many injured. Three journalists were also injured trying to cover the incident. Heal Zimbabwe perceives such act of barbarism as sad and uncalled for especially coming from law enforcers.

This incident clearly indicates that community members and citizens are not safe especially from the police who are supposed to protect them. Heal Zimbabwe also perceive the attack on journalists as a reversal of democratic rights provided for in the constitution under section 61 which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

 Heal Zimbabwe implores the Government under the Ministry of Local Government Public Works and National Housing, the police and Harare City Council to find peaceful ways of resolving the impasse emanating from the ban of kombis. The organisation further calls for justice to be served and ensure that the culprits responsible for the killings are arrested and brought before the courts.

 Heal Zimbabwe in line with section 210 of the constitution calls for the Government with immediate effect to set up an Independent Complaints Mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about the misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.  Heal Zimbabwe notes that if such acts of aggression continue unabated, they threaten peace, social cohesion and cast doubt on the eligibility of the state to protect its own citizens.

Youth in Epworth have vowed to uphold peace and shun violence ahead of the 2018 elections. This came out during a peace concert conducted in Epworth by Heal Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) on 20 January 2018. The main act for the peace concert was renowned Dancehall artist, Winky D.

 The objective of the peace concert was to popularize the HZT national peace campaign: 13 Million Voices for Peace and afford citizens an opportunity to pledge to uphold peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The peace concert was also aimed at mobilizing community members to register to vote ahead of the 2018 elections. The peace concert was attended by an estimated number of 8 000 people.

 As part of rallying citizens to pledge for peace ahead of the 2018 elections, Heal Zimbabwe set up a peace pledge desk that was adjacent to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) mobile registration centre where youth would pledge for peace soon after registering to vote. As part of pledging for peace, youth would fill in their personal details and append signatures to peace pledge forms indicating that they had publicly agreed to preach peace and shun political violence ahead of the elections. Heal Zimbabwe will use the peace pledge forms in its advocacy and follow up initiatives to campaign for peaceful elections. A total of 4 230 people pledged to uphold peace.

 Added to this, Heal Zimbabwe’s photo booth allowed for people who had pledged for peace to have photo sessions where each community member would reaffirm their commitment to pledge for peace by posing for a photo with placards that denounce political violence. Further to this, Heal Zimbabwe will use the peace pledges to hold community members accountable in the event that they renege on their commitment to uphold peace.

 ZEC officials also took time to explain the BVR process in detail and applauded the organization for such an initiative that seeks to ensure that the 2018 elections are peaceful. A total of 725 people managed to register on the day. Heal Zimbabwe and its partner organizations also encouraged citizens to register and vote in peace as the 2018 elections loom.

 Winky D also added his voice on the need for youth to uphold peace by encouraging youths to be peaceful during voter registration and ahead of the 2018 elections. He went on further to register to vote and encouraged youths who had not yet registered to follow suit.

 The peace concert in Epworth come at a time when Heal Zimbabwe has launched a nationwide peace campaign by conducting peace concerts as a way of encouraging citizens to uphold and pledge for peace ahead of the 2018 elections. In the past, the organization conducted a series of Youth Sports for Peace tournaments across the country so as to encourage youths to shun political violence and embrace peace. The youth tournaments were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign dubbed #13MilVoices4Peace, an initiative that aims to rally Zimbabweans to uphold peace ahead of the 2018 election.

Heal Zimbabwe expresses grave concern over the increase in cases of politically motivated violence. Cases of violence are being recorded in both urban and rural areas and are both intra and inter party involving mainly MDC T and ZANU PF supporters.

 On 10 January 2018, ZANU PF members, in Zaka East ward 31, Obert Sunamisai, Doubt Chitokwani, Forgive Chitokwane and Kumbirai Chitokwane assaulted MDC-T member Amos Kumire accusing him of supporting MDC-T party. The incident took place after Sunamisai had summoned Kumire intending to give him fertilizer at his homestead. Upon arrival, Sunamisai then started accusing Kumire of supporting MDC-T and organizing unsanctioned meetings in the ward. A dispute ensued between the two leading into an altercation. When Kumire tried to walk away, Sunamisai grabbed him and started assaulting him. Within moments, Sunamisai was joined by fellow ZANU PF members (Doubt Chitokwani, Forgive Chitokwane, Kumbirai) who in turn started assaulting Kumire who sustained serious injuries. The matter has been reported at Jerera police station but no arrests made so far.

 The incident in Zaka is one among many cases of political violence being recorded countrywide. On 26 December 2017, two ZANU PF youth led by ZANU PF ward chairperson for ward 10, Marondera, Obadiah Chisango heavily assaulted four MDC-T youth at Mahusekwa Business centre in Marondera West ward 10. The ZANU PF youth accused the MDC-T youth of being “sell outs” and organizing unsanctioned meetings in the ward. On 02 January 2018, deadly clashes erupted near the MDC-T party headquarters in Harare between MDC-T youths and cellphone traders from Ximex complex.

 On 02 January 2018 again, intra-party violence broke out in Epworth among ZANU PF supporters. The members accused each other of parceling out land along factional lines. The violence left two minor children severely burnt after the house belonging to Kudakwashe Damson was petrol bombed.

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that such demonstration of political intolerance is not only regrettable and unfortunate but have potential of compromising prospects for peace ahead of the 2018 elections if not addressed. Heal Zimbabwe implores political parties to reign in on errant supporters who perpetrate violence. Heal Zimbabwe also calls upon political parties in Zimbabwe to respect and enforce the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates, as it paves the way for a smooth electoral process that is devoid of violence. The Code’s purpose is to promote conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections and a climate of tolerance. The police must also be swift in apprehending people implicated in violent activities. In pursuit of his clarion call on the need for peaceful elections, President Emmerson Mnangagwa must do everything possible to ensure that the call on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections is strictly adhered to and followed religiously.

 Added to this, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), charged with developing mechanisms for early detection of conflicts must without fail initiate robust programmes that seek to prevent conflicts and to promote peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The NPRC must also set up an early warning system in partnership with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and churches for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes, and to take appropriate preventive measures.

Heal Zimbabwe applauds President Mnangagwa for signing into law the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Act on 05 January 2018. We welcome the move to operationalize the NPRC which was long overdue since the adoption of the constitution in 2013. Heal Zimbabwe has been on record calling on Government to enact an enabling legislation that operationalizes the NPRC. HZT also takes pride in the fact that the enactment of the Act into law comes at a time the organization has aggressively advocated for the full operationalization of the Commission with the latest initiative being the statement sent on 02 January 2018 imploring the President to sign the NPRC Bill 2017 to ensure the Independent Commission fulfils its constitutional mandate of promoting post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation.

 From its formative stages, Heal Zimbabwe has campaigned and advocated aggressively for the establishment of an Independent Commission in the form of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) by initiating an array of public awareness and advocacy initiatives. Over the years, the organization raised awareness on the importance of operationalizing the Independent Commission using various initiatives that include collaborative neutral platforms, NPRC information kiosks, clean up and door to door campaigns, public meetings, training workshops, Youths Sports for Peace, Community interface dialogues and memorialization projects among others. These activities helped citizens to become engaged and pro-active in calling for the full operationalization of the NPRC.

 Added to this in 2011, Heal Zimbabwe facilitated for survivors of political violence to petition the then Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) to initiate an inclusive healing and reconciliation process. In the subsequent years that followed, Heal Zimbabwe then conducted several Provincial Survivors Summits under its memorialization programme to afford survivors of political violence to add their voice to the discourse on national healing and reconciliation.

 In 2016 and 2017, HZT successfully mobilized citizens to add their voice to the NPRC draft bill during Parliamentary hearings. It is at these hearings that citizens rejected both bills on the basis that they ignored key reconciliation issues. For example, both draft bills were not clear on issues of compensation for victims of political violence. The Bills also failed to clearly highlight how the NPRC would deal with key reconciliation issues such as Operation Murambatsvina and Gukurahundi among other issues. In the same years, the organization also compiled a baseline report on the nature and format the healing and reconciliation process should take. Various stakeholders were engaged in coming up with the report. Heal Zimbabwe believes in a bottom- up approach to healing and reconciliation, a process that is inclusive of people from every level of society. The Unity Accord signed between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU in 1987 is testament to the fact that an elitist reconciliation peace deal cannot provide long lasting and wholesome solutions to reconciliation. The emotive Gukurahundi issue, even today, continues to dominate debates 31 years after the Unity Accord was signed.

 Heal Zimbabwe; however, notes that while the Act incorporated some amendments raised during the public hearings across the country, there remains serious provisions in the Act which were not repealed to incorporate the public concerns. For example, Section 10 of the Act empowers the Minister of national security to block an investigation by issuing a certificate blocking disclosure of evidence and documentation that he/she may deem to be prejudicial to the defense, external relations, internal security or economic interests of the State. Citizens rejected this provision during the public hearings. (HZT shall release a detailed analysis of the Act vis a vis expectations of victims.)

 In light of the enactment of the NPRC Act, Heal Zimbabwe implores the NPRC to:

  1. Ensure a people centered bottom- up Peace, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation process brought through an all stakeholders’ consultation process.
  2. The NPRC must carry out robust programmes that seek to prevent conflicts and to promote peace before, during and after the 2018 elections.
  3. The NPRC must set up an early warning system in partnership with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and churches for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes, and to take appropriate preventive measures.
  4. Facilitate Community specific models for truth recovery.
  5. Assure the security of witnesses during the public hearings.
  6. Craft, recommend and implement policies and legislation which will facilitate institutional reform, restorative justice, truth recovery and truth-telling and establishment of community and national memorials.
  7. Ensure and facilitate the documentation and sharing of multiple narratives of Zimbabwe’s history.
  8. Facilitate psychosocial support to victims of violence.

 

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