Latest News and Update from Heal Zimbabwe

Youths in Tsholotsho North and Zaka have vowed to uphold peace and encourage tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. This came out during two Youth Sports for Peace tournaments held in Zaka and Tsholotsho North on the 1st of July 2017. The tournaments were organized by community peace clubs and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) established by communities that work with Heal Zimbabwe in Zaka and Tsholotsho North respectively. The sports for peace tournaments are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign dubbed 13 Million Voices For Peace. The objective of the Campaign is to mobilize communities and their leaders to publicly shun violence and encourage peaceful coexistence before, during and after the 2018 general elections.

In Tsholotsho North, two community peace clubs that operate in wards 5 and 3 organized a Youth Sports for Peace Tournament at Sipepa Secondary school. The tournament saw 8 soccer and 8 netball teams from 4 wards battling it out for the prestigious peace cup. Before the tournament kicked off, all the participating teams made peace pledges and promised to uphold peace in their communities ahead of the 2018 plebiscite. Ordinary community members also signed peace pledges and promised to spread the message of peace. The tournament was attended by a total of 10 Village heads, 3 neighbourhood police members, Village Development Committee members (VIDCO) and 1 Headman.

Headman Mcetshwa, who has jurisdiction over 23 Villages was the guest of honour at the Sports for Peace Tournament. In his address, Headman Mcetshwa underscored the need for peace in Tsholotsho North and acknowledged the importance of sports for peace tournaments as they help rebuild relations and tolerance among youth. “…Sports for peace tournaments are key in building tolerance and peace amongst youths. Im ecstatic to see the youths pledging to uphold peace. We all have a responsibility to build peaceful communities…” he said. At the same occasion, Heal Zimbabwe Programmes Manager, Cleto Manjova echoed Headman Mcetshwa’s sentiments by highlighting that building peaceful communities is key to achieving social cohesion and peaceful coexistence, elements that promote credible electoral processes. Sundowns won the peace cup in the soccer category while Pirates won in the netball category.

In Zaka, the Youth Sports for Peace Tournament was conducted at Mushungwa Secondary School and 6 soccer and 6 netball teams drawn from Ward 19, 18, 13 and 24 competed for the Peace Cup. The tournament was organized by Heal Zimbabwe community peace structures. Before kickoff, all the participating teams pledged to uphold peace ahead of the 2018 elections and vowed to continue utilizing sports as a tool to propagate tolerance and peace. The tournament was attended  by 2 Councillors, 7 village heads, 1 headman and 11 WADCO members.

In his speech, ward 19 Councillor Peter Imbayarwo highlighted the need for youths to shun violence and guard against being used to perpetrate violence. “…I appeal to the youths to shun violence but instead be ambassadors of peace because we need peaceful 2018 elections..”, he said. Jerera City won the peace cup in the soccer category while Kushinga won in the netball category.

Both Sports for peace tournaments were attended by a total of 700 community members. Sports for peace tournaments are one among many initiatives being used by HZT to promote peace and tolerance ahead of next year’s elections. Heal Zimbabwe will spread the Sports for peace tournaments to other areas such as Gutu, Mutasa, Mutoko, Chipinge, Bikita, Makoni and Gokwe.

The Zaka Central community and surrounding areas gathered at Zaka High School on Saturday 10 June for the launch of the Heal Zimbabwe National Peace Campaign dubbed: “15 Million Voices For Peace”. Participants pledged to actively participate in upholding the notion of peaceful coexistence as the nation braces for another plebiscite in 2018. The event saw 20 soccer teams and 8 netball teams competing for the HZT Youth Peace Cup.

The peace campaign sets the stage for peaceful electoral campaigns and galvanise stakeholders towards a peaceful election. It aims to create awareness about peace and the need for peaceful elections in Zimbabwe. It also envision to spread the message of peace to all parts of the country and getting citizens to pledge their support for a peaceful election. In attendance were close to 800 community members drawn from nine wards in Zaka Central. The event was also graced by Member of Parliament for Zaka Central, Hon Chakona, seven Councillors, the District Administrator for Zaka, members of the police, several Traditional leaders and Masvingo Senator, Misheck Marava. During the event, participants took turns to make peace pledges. Public peace pledges are an initiative by Heal Zimbabwe that afford communities room to demand adherence to peaceful conduct by all stakeholders especially during elections. It forms a key pillar of the social contract for every community.

In order to ensure the message is easily appreciated, various artists provided edutainment. Among the artists was Seh Calaz and comedian and actor, Sabhuku Vharazipi. The event was also graced by football legend Alois Bunjira who emphasized the need for young people to consider sport as a serious profession than engage in violent conduct.

Heal Zimbabwe shall take the peace campaign to other provinces targeting community members, political leaders, youths, women, traditional leaders and aspiring candidates to pledge to uphold peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The ultimate result is to have the entire population calling for peaceful conduct in all interactions particularly political processes within and across their political affiliations.

 

Communities in Zaka, Makoni and Mbire have resolved to uphold peace despite rising political temperatures. This came out during a series of neutral collaborative platforms (nhimbes) held from 17-21 May 2017 in Zaka, Makoni and Mbire. The nhimbes included clean up campaigns, harvesting of crops and gulley filling exercises. The nhimbes were aimed at raising public awareness on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. The nhimbes were organized by 15 community peace clubs in Makoni (5 peace clubs), Mbire (5 peace clubs), and Zaka (5 peace clubs).

The nhimbes were attended by a total of 26 Village heads, 3 Headmen, 2 Councillors, 10 Village Health Workers and 20 Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members and 600 community members. Some of the issues that came out from the discussions during the nhimbes include the issue of forced attendance to political gatherings and continued intimidation of community members. Youths who attended the collaborative platforms also raised their disgruntlement on the invisible hand of political party leaders who entice youths through tokens to engage in violent activities furthering their own selfish ends. Upon reflection, all the young people who attended the nhimbes vowed to promote peace despite the interference of political parties and the rising political tensions ahead of the 2018 elections. Community members also underscored the need to organize sports for peace tournaments since they have potential of uniting youths from across the political divide. As a way forward, community members vowed to continue spreading the message of peace and initiate activities that promote peace, tolerance and social cohesion.

The nhimbes were conducted at a time Heal Zimbabwe is harvesting community views on coming up with peace messages that raise public awareness on the need for peaceful participation in the upcoming 2018 elections. The messages will be part of a broad National Peace Campaign to be launched by Heal Zimbabwe Peace structures in June 2017.

A Peace Club is a ward based community group of 20 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.

Traditional leaders who attended collaborative neutral platforms (nhimbes) organised by communities that work with Heal Zimbabwe pledged to uphold peace and called for political tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. This came out during nhimbes organised by peace clubs in Mutasa South, Gokwe North, Mazowe and Muzarabani North.

From the 10th to the 14th of May 2017, Heal Zimbabwe conducted a total of 16 nhimbes in Mutasa South (6 peace clubs), Gokwe North (5 peace clubs), Mazowe (4 peace clubs) and Muzarabani (1 peace club). The collaborative platforms included harvesting of crops, road gulley filling and clean up campaigns. The nhimbes brought together various community leaders who include 22 village heads, 2 councillors and 1 Headman, 7 Village health workers, 80 Village Health Development Committees (VIDCO) members. A total of 700 people attended the collaborative platforms. The nhimbes were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign, an initiative that seeks to raise public awareness on the need for peaceful participation in the upcoming 2018 elections.

Issues that came out during the nhimbes include political party internal fights which are fuelling conflicts in communities. Community members also noted that there has been an increase in monitoring and surveillance of human rights and development initiatives hindering the right to freedom of assembly and association.

Community members also noted that intimidation and unfair food aid distribution remain prevalent with the major perpetrators being village heads, councillors,  Headmen and political party youths. However, Traditional leaders who attended the nhimbes pledged to uphold peace and rally community members to participate in initiatives that help build peace and tolerance. This is despite the fact that the Traditional leadership institution has suffered heavy abuse at the hands of political entrepreneurs who abuse the institution to further selfish political agendas.

Traditional leaders especially in Muzarabani North and Mutasa were also grateful to Heal Zimbabwe for facilitating people to report cases of human rights violations to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC). They noted that since the ZHRC visited their areas and investigated cases of human rights violations, they have noted a reduction in cases of human rights violations.

Nhimbes have over the years created platforms for community members to interface with duty bearers, deliberating on pertinent issues that affect social cohesion, peace and development. The platforms have also managed to resolve conflicts before they degenerated into open violence.

A Peace Club is a ward based community group of 20 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.

 

Introduction
Mwenezi East Constituency held a by-election to elect a new National Assembly representative on 8 April 2017. The seat fell vacant after the death of Honourable Joshua Moyo of Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF). A proclamation for the by-election was made according to the Electoral Act and 8 April 2017 was set as the byelection date. Four candidates successfully managed to file their nomination papers, with Mr Kudakwashe Bhasikiti withdrawing before Election Day citing intimidation of his supporters and many other irregularities in the campaign period. A total of 20 220 citizens cast their votes during the one-day plebiscite at 62 polling stations across the eight wards making the constituency. Total registered voters were 47 086 meaning a voter turnout of 41, 9% down from 58, 6% in 2013. Joosbi Omar of ZANU PF secured victory with 18 700 votes while Welcome Masuku of National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) had 482 votes and Turner Nhango of Free Zimbabwe Congress Party (Free-Zim) had 386 votes. The by-election was largely peaceful with isolated cases of intimidation reported. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) abided by most of the administrative electoral regulations. However irregularities in the electoral boundaries were noted where voter population variances amongst wards were inconsistent to the requirements of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Section 161(6). The by-election saw attempts by state institutions to implement Section 133J of the Electoral Act by physically and publicly setting up shop on election site.

Click the link below to download the full Mwenezi East by-election preliminary report

 

Mwenezi East by-election preliminary report

Women who are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s Community Action Accountability Teams (CAATs) in Gutu and Bikita have vowed to mobilize women in their communities to register to vote ahead of the 2018 elections. This came out during a Training of trainers workshop for 4 CAATs in Bikita ward 32&12 and Gutu ward 5&6 on 10 and 11 April 2017. A CAAT is a group of 25 women established by Heal Zimbabwe drawn from diverse political and socio-economic backgrounds working together to build peace, social cohesion and demand accountability from duty bearers (MPs, Councillors, Senators and traditional leaders). In 2016, the organisation worked with 100 CAAT members from 4 groups and this year the groups have expanded to 8 adding 100 more women, bringing the total to 200.

The objectives of the training workshops were to capacitate CAATs to mainstream peace building and gender in their day to day activities. The trainings also imparted skills on topics such as stakeholder mapping, which is a process that allows CAATs to identify and analyse different stakeholders within their communities who can help mitigate conflicts. The trainings also equipped participants with skills on conflict mediation, resolution, mapping and stakeholder engagement which are needed when resolving conflicts. Besides being equipped with skills in conflict mediation, the trainings also offered an opportunity for participants to discuss the roles and functions of Independent Commissions that support democracy such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), Gender Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).

Issues that came out during the trainings were that previously, because of past political violence episodes, most women in Bikita and Gutu were not keen to participate in democratic processes such as voter registration and voting processes. To help address this, CAAT members promised to mobilize women at the lowest level of their communities to actively participate in elections both as voters and candidates.

In the past, the CAATs  have managed to mobilize fellow women in their communities to participate in Council budget consultation meetings. They have also been instrumental in monitoring and recording human rights violations in their areas and facilitating for victims of human rights violations to report their cases to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).The CAATs also mobilized 31 women to attend an NPRC bill hearing meeting in Masvingo on 13 March 2017.

In September 2016, CAAT members also carried out a series of door to door campaigns targeting women and youths. These campaigns managed to raise awareness on the need for social accountability and educating community members on their constitutional rights.  The campaigns have witnessed an increase in the number of women who are now effectively participating in decision making processes that include budget consultations and food aid registration processes. In October 2016, CAATs held 20 Community interface meetings in Zaka, Bikita and Gutu that offered an opportunity for community members to engage with duty bearers on critical human rights issues. Some of the issues discussed during the interface meetings include partisan distribution of food aid, shortage of water, unfair selection of Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) beneficiaries which the communities noted fuel conflicts in communities.

Heal Zimbabwe envisions a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe that celebrates diversity in local communities. The organization seeks to facilitate community healing, reconciliation, build peace and social justice through transforming conflicts in local communities.

 

Introduction

The Election Resource Centre (ERC), Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) deployed teams of mobile observers in Mwenezi East Constituency where a by-election is being conducted to elect a new Member of Parliament (MP). The constituency seat fell vacant following the death of Hon.Joshua Moyo of the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF). Three candidates are vying for the post and these are Mr. Joosby Omar of ZANU PF, Mr. Welcome Masuku of the National Consultative Assembly (NCA) and Mr. Turner Mhango of Free Zimbabwe Congress. This by-election was characterized by withdrawal of one of the candidates, Mr. Kudakwashe Bhasikiti of Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), citing allegations of intimidation of his supporters and vote-buying by ZANU PF.

Administration of ZEC
As provided by Section 239 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), was able to deliver all the required materials for the by-election on time. The materials were distributed last night to all 62 polling stations. ZEC also managed to conduct a test run of the materials, this was attended by some political party candidates who witnessed the process.

Opening
Most polling stations opened by 07:00 hours in line with Section 53 (1) of the Electoral Act states that all polling stations are to open by 07:00 hours and this was the case in Mwenezi East as most polling stations opened on time. Voters started queuing at some polling stations particularly in Ward 13 as early as 05:00 hours while at some polling stations such as in ward 18 there were no queues.

Assisted voters
At most polling stations a significant number of assisted voters had been recorded as of 10:00 hours. Reasons for assisted voting include voters being illiterate and visually impaired. The voters were being assisted in accordance with Section 58 of the Electoral Act which provides that a presiding officer shall permit another person, selected by the voter, to assist the voter or in the absence of a person selected by the voter, assist the voter in the presence of two other electoral officers or employees of the Commission and a police officer on duty.
Participation
A significant number of elderly voters more than youth were observed as at 10:00 hours. In addition, longer queues of women were noted as compared to men. In Ward 13 there was a significant number of people who were turned away as they were not registered voters, defaced Identity Documents and attempts to use ZANU PF membership cards to vote. An isolated case of an attempted underage vote was recorded at Tokwe-Mukosi Primary School polling station.

Observers
There is a notable presence of mobile observers in Mwenezi East. However, a limited number of static observers was noted as at 10:00 hours.

Political environment
The environment is generally calm with no notable cases of election related human rights violations reported in all the polling stations observed as at 10:00hours. In accordance with Section 133J of the Electoral Act, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has allocated officers to lead investigations and Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has assigned three magistrates to preside over reported disputes. In addition, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is on the ground monitoring human rights abuses that might arise.

However, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) has not formally assigned a prosecutor specific to the Mwenezi East by-election neither have they formally communicated with election stakeholders.

Political party agents
ZANU PF has managed to deploy agents at all polling stations observed. There were however limited numbers of opposition party agents at polling stations observed by 10:00 hours.

Heal Zimbabwe welcomes the call by Vice President Phekezela Mphoko for the government to take responsibility and address Gukurahundi atrocities. VP Mphoko said this during a meeting with members of the late Chief Masuku’s family in Nzula, Nathisa in Matobo district on April 3 2017. “We’re the leaders of this country and it’s our responsibility to address those (Gukurahundi) matters. What we have to do is to issue birth and death certificates to those who were affected by Gukurahundi and rebury their loved ones properly in terms of the laws of our country as well as economically empower them,” he said.

VP Mphoko also announced that government has started exhuming those who were buried in shallow graves so as to give them descent reburials. He also said it was important to deal with the scars of the post-independence disturbances so that the victims can move on with their lives.

Heal Zimbabwe welcomes the Vice President’s gesture towards addressing the country’s past muddy conflict history. Issuing out birth certificates to the Gukurahundi victims and facilitating reburials is a long overdue process which will hopefully contribute towards community healing and reconciliation. However, as the Minister responsible for healing and reconciliation VP Mphoko should consider a holistic reconciliation package espousing all the pillars of transitional justice such as Truth Telling, Restoration, Justice, Institutional Reform and Memorialization.

During the recent National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill public  hearings in Matabeleland, victims of Gukurahundi demanded truth telling, compensation, prosecution of perpetrators and public apologies by the perpetrators. In this view, to bring closure to Gukurahundi atrocities and other past violations, the government must engage multiple stakeholders including victims and perpetrators if proper healing and reconciliation is to be achieved.

Heal Zimbabwe implores the government to swiftly take requisite steps to bring closure to the contentious issue of Gukurahundi among other conflict episodes affecting Zimbabwe’s unity, peace and development. The government must also speed up the setting up of the NPRC and operationalizing it before violence recurrences ahead of the 2018 elections.

Heal Zimbabwe expresses concern over the conduct of some Traditional leaders in Guruve South Constituency who are threatening opposition party supporters with denial of food aid and eviction from their villages if they fail to purchase ZANU PF membership cards. On 25 March 2017, Village head Charles Mukodzani who also doubles as ZANU PF chairperson for ward 11 and Village head Killer Chigonero convened a meeting at Nyamhondoro Secondary school.

At the meeting the two Village heads announced that people were supposed to purchase ZANU PF membership cards that costs $3 if they still wanted to continue receiving food aid .They also announced that if anyone defies the directive, they risked being evicted from their villages. Ward 11 Councillor, Samuel Machumi also attended the meeting and concurred with the Village heads by also announcing that people who fail to produce ZANU PF membership cards during food aid distribution meetings were going to be denied food aid.

Heal Zimbabwe notes that the conduct of the traditional leaders is in direct violation of section 281 of the constitution that states that “traditional leaders must not further interests of any political party or be members of any political party”. Such conduct by traditional leaders also compromise their constitutional obligations such as resolving disputes amongst people in their communities. Heal Zimbabwe also appreciates that Traditional leaders are regarded as custodians of traditional law and receive the bulk of the cases dealing with violence which might be political, domestic or antisocial behavior. This role alone calls for traditional leaders to be non-partisan.

Heal Zimbabwe implores political parties to desist from abusing the Traditional leadership institution for political mileage and gain. As the country heads towards the 2018 elections, political parties should rather take a leading role in campaigning for peace ahead of the elections.

Heal Zimbabwe envisions a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe that celebrates diversity in local communities.

 

Heal Zimbabwe expresses concern over the increase in cases of voter intimidation in Mwenezi East constituency ahead of the 8 April by election. The intimidation has been mainly targeting opposition party supporters especially those aligned to opposition parties that are taking part in the by election.

On 25 March 2017, Free Zimbabwe Congress party member, Jerry Tsakani was assaulted for wearing his party t-shirt by Stonya Muhango at Neshuro Growth Point in ward 5. Stonya Muhango is a ZANU PF youth chairperson for Mwenezi East District. Tsakani reported the matter at Neshuro police station leading to the arrest of Stonya Muhango. Before the incident, Stonya Muhango was also seen defacing campaign posters for National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) candidate in the by election, Welcome Masuku at Neshuro growth point.

In Ward 7, On 26 March 2017, Village head Neshuro deployed a team of ZANU PF youths who moved in the ward forcing people to pay 2kg mealie meal and $1 towards ZANU PF candidate Joosbi Omar’s rally that will be held at Kuwirirana ward centre on 29 March 2017.Village head Neshuro also announced that people who would fail to pay or donate towards the rally were not going to receive any food aid that will be distributed at the rally by Omar.

In Ward 13, on 26 March 2017, Headman Chipepetseke also deployed several ZANU PF youths who embarked on a door to door exercise in the ward writing down names of people perceived to be opposition party members. The youths threatened people with violence and withdrawal of food aid in the event that ZANU PF candidate in the by election Joosbi Omar loses the election.

Heal Zimbabwe notes that such practices and threats ahead of the by election, are a total disregard of constitutional provision 67 which provides for political rights. The said provision states that “every citizen has the right to form, join and to participate in the activities of a political party of their choice”. Section 156 of the constitution also compel Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to eliminate electoral violence and other electoral malpractices.

As a result of the above issues, Heal Zimbabwe also implores the Government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to ensure a fair playing field ahead of the by-election. This, therefore, involves ZEC ensuring that it investigates incidences of intimidation by political players ahead of the election and take necessary measures to guarantee a level electoral playing field.                                      

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