Community structures established by communities that work with Heal Zimbabwe in Zaka, Bikita and Gutu (Masvingo Province) have implored political parties (ZANU PF and MDC-T) to exercise political tolerance and shun violence ahead of the 2018 elections. This was revealed during a series of collaborative platforms conducted in the three areas.

 In the past months, Heal Zimbabwe noted an increase in cases of human rights violations in the three areas that include intimidation and forced attendance to rallies and meetings. To avert this, Heal Zimbabwe community structures that include Community Accountability Action Teams (CAATs) and Women safe spaces for reconciliation (WSSR) conducted collaborative platforms that include clean-up campaigns from the 12th – 15th of June 2018. Two Community Based Organisations (CBOs) from Zaka and Gutu namely Kutatarika Community Based Organisation and Kushinga Community Development Trust respectively, also carried out collaborative platforms to raise awareness on the need for peaceful participation in the upcoming plebiscites.

 The objective of the campaigns was to raise awareness on the importance of peaceful participation in the upcoming harmonised elections scheduled for the 30th of July 2018.The activities targeted community leaders, political parties, youths, men and women and other key stakeholders that include Traditional leaders. The platforms afforded community members an opportunity to discuss the importance of tolerance and prevalence of peace ahead of elections.

 Community members noted that the increase in campaign rallies by political parties has led to an increase in cases of human rights violations especially forced attendance to rallies and intimidation. In most cases, community members noted that Traditional leaders were partisan as they were at the fore front of force-marching people to attend political gatherings as well as threatening to withhold food aid from people who boycott political gatherings. Community members also bemoaned the lack of political intolerance as exhibited during primary elections of political parties particularly ZANU PF and MDC-T. Community members concluded that if political parties fail to reign in on violent supporters, this would jeopardize the conducting of violent-free elections.

 The platforms also allowed community members to share ideas on community protection mechanisms such as reporting cases of human rights violations to responsible authorities such as the police and independent commissions. Some of the resolutions from the platforms include the need for community members to intensify campaigns for peace and work closely with all political parties in a bid to minimize conflicts. Community members also resolved to engage Traditional leaders on the need to shun partisan politics and preach peace. Chief Maworera of Gutu who was part of a collaborative platform in Gutu also appealed to Traditional leaders in his area to promote peace and build peaceful communities. “Traditional leaders must amplify President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call for peace ahead of elections and urge community members to shun violence and promote peace”, he said.

 WSSR and CAATs are also currently conducting door-door campaigns where they are raising awareness on peace and tolerance ahead of elections. Through the door to door exercises, CAATs have managed to reach out to women within their safe spaces and demystify myths around the Biometric Voter Registration exercise. During this exercise, CAATs have noted that a lot of women due to past violent episodes still shy away from participating in electoral processes.

HZT works with diverse groups of rural women all around Zimbabwe and has established WSSR composed of women of different age groups, backgrounds and political persuasions. A CAAT is a safe space group of women and youths from diverse political and socio-economic backgrounds working together to build peace and demand social accountability from duty bearers. communities.

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of Africa in commemorating the Day of the African Child. The day celebrated every year on 16 June, was set aside to remember the young people of South Africa who were massacred in Soweto in 1976 for protesting against apartheid system of education. The theme for this year is “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development”. The 2018 theme highlights the need to ensure that no child is left behind by specifically targeting those who are not benefitting from Africa’s growth and development. The theme also underscores the need for inclusive development for children, that is, whenever undertaking to develop programs and policies for implementing Agenda 2030, children should be at the centre-stage and Member States should ensure that no child is left behind in the drive towards sustainable economic development.

 Zimbabwe is a signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) which compels member states to uphold the rights and welfare of the children. According to a 2010 survey conducted by Heal Zimbabwe in Muzarabani District, 20% of families are child headed as a result of political violence that has remained a permanent feature in the area till this day. This has deprived children of their right to social services such as health and education that are explicitly provided for in the ACRWC. Children of victims of political violence from Muzarabani North ward 3, 23 and Muzarabani South ward 3 and 9 are still being discriminated against in the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM). Under this scheme, School Development Associations (SDA) are run by Councillors who in most instances have barred children of some victims of political violence from benefitting from BEAM citing political reasons.

 To date, Heal Zimbabwe continues to record reports of such discrimination at Muringazuva Primary School, Muringazuva Secondary School, Hoya Primary School, Chiwashira Primary School and Hoya Secondary school. Because of such deprivation, one child who had both parents murdered during the 2008 political violence has been forced into early marriage at the tender age of 15 years. This is despite the fact that Article 21 of the ACRWC provides for Protection against Harmful Social and Cultural Practices where every child is to be protected from early marriage.

 With Zimbabwe scheduled to conduct elections on 30 July 2018, mechanisms that seek to protect children from any form of abuse as provided for in the Zimbabwe constitution on Section 81 (e) still need to be enforced. In the past electoral periods, Heal Zimbabwe has documented gross abuse of children by political parties where in most cases children have been forced to attend political rallies at the expense of their education. In some instances, most children remain vulnerable during electoral periods in the event of eruption of political violence. Past episodes of political violence, particularly the 2008 elections left several children displaced, orphaned and vulnerable after their parents or guardians were murdered.

 For Zimbabwe, the occasion of the Day of the African child offers an opportunity for Government to evaluate progress made in ensuring that children are protected from any form of abuse. Section 19 of the Constitution provides for children’s rights where every child is to be protected from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse and have access to appropriate education and training. In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to adopt policies and measures that ensure that every child is protected from violence, abuse or torture and be protected from harmful cultural practices, exploitation and all forms of abuse. With elections fast approaching, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) must without delay develop mechanisms for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes especially those that directly affect children.

 

Heal Zimbabwe commends the Judicial Service Commission for designating trial magistrates for politically motivated violence and intimidation cases. The trial magistrates have been distributed across nine provinces. The declaration by the JSC is in terms of Section 133J (3) of the Electoral Act (Chapter2:13). The magistrates will deal with cases before during, and after the harmonized elections.

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that the deployment of trial magistrates is a positive step that will ensure that victims of political violence have access to justice. If the plan is well adhered to, it will help reduce cases of political violence that have been fueled by a culture of impunity especially within local communities.

 However, it is Heal Zimbabwe’s view that appointing trial magistrates ahead of the elections alone is not enough. Addressing political violence requires multiple involvement of stakeholders such as the church, civil society, Independent Commissions such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and political parties.

 In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe implores the JSC to promote and facilitate the independence and accountability of the judiciary and the efficient, effective and transparent administration of justice in Zimbabwe in compliance with section 190 (2) of the constitution. Political parties must also join the crusade of campaigning for peace ahead of elections.

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Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of Africa in commemorating Africa Day. This day is the annual commemoration of the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which later became the African Union (AU).

 For Zimbabwe, Africa Day commemorations offer an opportunity to reflect if the vision of the founding fathers of the AU have been realized to date. One of the key things they envisaged was promotion of unity and solidarity among African states. The commemorations for this year are taking place a few months before Zimbabwe goes for watershed elections. Recent incidences of violence that have been recorded in primary elections for both MDC-T and ZANU PF cast doubt over the possibility of violent free elections. In light of this, Independent Commissions that support Democracy such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commissions (NPRC) must without delay set up early warning and early response mechanisms for the early detection of conflicts ahead of the 2018 elections.

 Zimbabwe as a member of the African Union must also stand guided by provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, a human rights instrument intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms on the African continent. In addition, one of the Aspirations of Agenda 2063, which is both a vision and an action Plan launched by the African Union in 2015, aims to achieve a peaceful and a secure Africa where mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be functional at all levels. As a first step, dialogue-centered conflict prevention and resolution must be actively promoted and a culture of peace and tolerance must be cultivated among political parties in Zimbabwe.

 In light of this year’s commemorations, Heal Zimbabwe urges government to commit fully and guarantee the conducting of free, fair and violent free elections by putting the necessary infrastructure in place such as fully capacitating Independent Commissions that support Democracy such as NPRC for effective discharge of their constitutional duties. This is a direct contribution to the African Union vision of Agenda 2063, which aims to achieve a peaceful and secure Africa where all mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be functional at all levels.

 

 

Community members from Chipinge and Buhera South have expressed concern over the lack of swiftness by Independent Commissions such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to respond to cases of human rights violations.

 This came out during collaborative neutral platforms conducted from 8-11 May 2018 by Community Peace Clubs, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and a Women Safe Space for Reconciliation (WSSR) that work with Heal Zimbabwe in Chipinge (wards 1,3,16 and 17) and Buhera ward 33. The collaborative neutral platforms involved cultivation of irrigation crops, cleaning of water canals and clean-up exercises. The objective of the platforms was to encourage community members to uphold peace and participate peacefully in the upcoming 2018 harmonised elections. The activities were attended by 3 Councillors, 2 Headmen, 12 village heads, 27 Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members, 7 Ward Development Committee members (WADCO). A total of 450 people attended the events.

 Issues that came out during the collaborative neutral platforms include the lack of swift response by the ZEC to act decisively on the rampant collection of serial numbers of voter registration slips by Traditional leaders and ZANU PF structures. “We are very worried that ZEC has not acted or even recommended for prosecution of people who are forcing community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips. This is a form of intimidation”, said one community member.

 Buhera ward 33 Councillor, Edwin Mabika also weighed in and highlighted that independent Commissions such as the ZHRC have not even started investigating reported cases of human rights violations. “We have reported numerous reports through the facilitation of Heal Zimbabwe to the ZHRC but to date no investigations or arrests have been conducted, this is worrisome,” he said.

 Community members further appealed to the NPRC to swiftly establish early warning and early response mechanisms at ward level to monitor and respond to cases of political violence. Community members also challenged the Government to do more to ensure that the 2018 elections are conducted in a free, fair and peaceful environment. The peace clubs resolved to intensify their campaigns for peace and will utilise peace pledges from Peace Concerts, Collaborative platforms and Sports for Peace tournaments to hold community leaders to preach the message of peace ahead of 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.

 

Heal Zimbabwe is appalled by violent episodes of intra-party violence that rocked MDC-T consensus meetings in several districts across the country over the weekend. In Budiriro, Harare, MDC-T supporters clashed during a consensus meeting at Budiriro 2 Training centre after disagreements over the selection of Parliamentary and Council candidates. Budiriro Legislator, Costa Machingauta had to flee the venue of the meeting as party youths charged against him. In Glen View North, party supporters turned violent and accused sitting Legislator Fani Munengami of maliciously removing names of those contesting him in the party’s primary elections. Similar incidences of violence were also recorded in Glen View South where Vimbai Tsvangirai Java an aspiring Legislator had to be escorted out of the venue after party supporters turned violent and accused her of imposing herself in the constituency. Several incidences of violence and intimidation were also recorded in Glen Norah, Zengeza, Kambuzuma and Gokwe.

 HZT is dismayed by the continued disregard of political tolerance among political parties as the nation braces for the much awaited 2018 elections. Hardly a week ago, violence and intimidation rocked ZANU PF primary elections as party supporters clashed over reports of vote rigging and manipulation of voter registers. Heal Zimbabwe views the lack of political tolerance as a recipe for political violence. It is also Heal Zimbabwe’s view that tolerance, pluralism are principles central to the attainment of peace and also form core pillars of democracy.

 In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores MDC-T and other political parties to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates 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.

 Heal Zimbabwe implores Independent Commissions that support democracy such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to work hand in glove with other key stakeholders to set up early warning and early response mechanism to detect and respond to cases of political violence. Added to this, the police must also effectively maintain order without fear and bias as enshrined in Section 219 of the constitution. Political parties must also come up with stiffer penalties for supporters who perpetrate violence.

 

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.

Heal Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest terms the intra-party violence that occurred during the ZANU PF primary elections held from the 29th of April to the 1st of May 2018. The ZANU PF primary elections were marred by serious irregularities that include violence, intimidation, assault, vote buying, ballot stuffing and the use of police officers in the management the primary elections. Members of the police were deployed throughout the country to act a polling agents during the primary elections. Some of the irregularities were recorded in the following areas: in Centenary, Mashonaland Central, voting was stopped after disgruntled supporters violently protested against ballot stuffing and being blocked to vote at Mukwengure Primary School.

 In Kwekwe Ward 9, Councillor Kandu Lawe on the 29th of April 2018 stormed Amaveni polling station over some cell register irregularities and threatened to assault polling agents if they continued with the primary elections. In another case aspiring candidate for Kwekwe Central, John Mapurazi pulled out of the elections citing violence and intimidation. ZANU PF supporters violently seized and burnt ballot papers in Murehwa South at Craiglea Primary School.

 In Chegutu West, Dexter Nduna publicly fired shots in the air at Chinengundu Primary School on the 1st of May 2018. In Muzarabani South ward 17, Village head and ZANU PF District Chairman George Kambudzi an agent for Councillor Proud Pfotso on the 30th of April 2018, assaulted Feira Moya for supporting Maxwell Kangosa an aspiring councillor for Muzarabani ward 17 at Kambudzi Primary School.

 Heal Zimbabwe perceives the violent clashes as barbaric and uncalled for as they cast doubt over the possibility of peaceful, free and fair elections. The organisation condemns the use of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the management of the primary elections, a direct contradiction of section 219 (2) of the constitution which clearly stipulates that the police must be nonpartisan.

 Heal Zimbabwe implores ZANU PF and other political parties who are yet to conduct primary elections to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates 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.

 Heal Zimbabwe implores the police as law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order without fear or favour as enshrined in the constitution and ensure that the environment is peaceful for all citizens.  HZT further calls for political parties to value human life and take all necessary measures to uphold peace. Political parties must punish rogue supporters responsible for violence and establish sustainable peaceful measures of deterring future violent conflicts. The organization further urges all political parties to promote a culture of peace and tolerance within its structures as the nation approaches the elections.

Community members in Buhera have expressed concern over the increasing demand for serial numbers of voter registration slips by Traditional Leaders and ZANU PF structures. This was revealed by community members from Buhera who attended a series of collaborative neutral platforms (nhimbes) conducted by Heal Zimbabwe in partnership with 6 Community Peace Clubs in Buhera from the 24th to the 27th of April 2018. Community members noted that the collection of serial numbers was a form of intimidation, hence it poses a serious threat to peace and coexistence in local communities. The collection of serial numbers also poses a threat to the secrecy of the ballot and compromises the freeness and integrity of elections.

 The collaborative platforms included harvesting of crops, clean up campaigns and road gulley and pothole filling exercises. The nhimbes drew a number of community leaders that include 9 village heads, 2 councillors and 1 Headman and 10 Village Development Committees (VIDCO) members. A total of 320 people were reached as a result of these activities. The nhimbes were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s countrywide National Peace Campaign dubbed 13 Million Voices For Peace, which seeks to raise public awareness on the need for peaceful coexistence, tolerance and participation in the upcoming 2018 elections.

 Issues raised during the nhimbes include, the continuous demand for serial numbers of voter registration slips by some Traditional leaders, partisan distribution of food aid and victimisation of opposition supporters.  Community members highlighted that intimidation remain prevalent in their communities as a result of the demand for collection of serial numbers. A community member (name withheld) highlighted that the collection of serial numbers of voter registration slips is a threat towards peaceful coexistence as this has potential of discouraging community members from peacefully participating in this year’s elections.

 One Village head highlighted that indeed community members feel intimidated as a result of the collection of serial numbers and the partisan distribution of food aid. “I have received numerous reports by community members who have been intimidated by unscrupulous Traditional leaders and ZANU PF structures, with the 2018 elections approaching, this is very worrying”, he said.

 Some Traditional leaders who attended the nhimbes urged community members to report cases of intimidation to the police and continue initiating activities that help build peace, tolerance and social cohesion.

 The nhimbes managed to provide a platform for community leaders to interact with community members over critical issues that affect the local communities. Community peace clubs vowed to continue promoting peace and tolerance in public spaces through activities that include nhimbes, clean up campaigns, road maintenance exercises, door to door campaigns and sports tournaments especially as the nation draws close to the elections.

 Since its inception Heal Zimbabwe has used collaborative neutral platforms as a mechanism of resolving conflicts, building peace and creating lasting relationships hinged on mutual respect and tolerance.

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

 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.

 

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