This baseline study is one of Heal Zimbabwe Trust’s contribution towards remedying the residual effects of past human rights violations. A thorough consideration of concerns raised in this report and its recommendations undoubtedly support the construction of a socially cohesive nation that enjoys tolerance, peace, and prosperity at all tiers of the society. We provide expanded facts about Zimbabwean communities’ perceptions about what constitutes peace, healing and reconciliation while establishing an ideal framework for the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). Heal Zimbabwe Trust will continue to support research into all types of conflicts, across all communities, emphasizing areas which we believe have significant peace and human rights improving potential.
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Our first publication is titled: Pathways to Peace and Reconciliation: Literature Lessons for Zimbabwe. The paper reviews the reconciliation discourse and examines how reconciliation could be implemented in Zimbabwe. The review discusses Zimbabwe’s conflict legacy and its implications for transitional justice. It also provides various approaches that the NPRC and national healing and reconciliation stakeholders could consider when facilitating reconciliation interventions. We conclude that there is national readiness from the communities, but political will is a requisite towards creating a conducive national healing, peace and reconciliation environment.
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Heal Zimbabwe conducted a series of collaborative platforms in the form of nhimbes targeted at raising public awareness on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. From 25 -30 April 2017, Heal Zimbabwe through its 18 community peace clubs in Gutu West (6 peace clubs), Mutoko (3 peace clubs), Murehwa (3 peace clubs) and Buhera West (6 peace clubs) mobilized community members to participate in nhimbes that included harvesting of crops, clean up campaigns and road gulley filling exercises. The nhimbes were attended by a total of 18 Village heads, 5 Headmen, 3 Councillors and 100 Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members. A total of 900 community members attended the programme. The nhimbes were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign which seeks to raise public awareness on the need for peaceful participation in the upcoming 2018 elections.
Some of the issues that came out of the nhimbes include increase in cases of harassment and intimidation of people by political activists. Women present highlighted that there is limited participation of women in electoral processes as a result of intimidation largely perpetuated by Ward chairpersons, village heads and elected officials such as councillors. Some of the participants also raised concerns around the proposed adoption of a BVR system by ZEC for the 2018 elections. They indicated that there is alot of misinformation in the communities with some ward chairpersons and Traditional leaders intimidating people by stating that the biological features captured by the BVR system shall be used to find out who would have voted for which political party. In order to demystify the myth around the BVR process, there is need for a robust voter education program by ZEC and civil society organisations. The peace clubs also promised to carry out peer to peer voter education if they are equipped with adequate information.
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.
The Rights Heal Elections (RHE) consortium comprising of ZimRights, Heal Zimbabwe and the Election Resource Centre, combined efforts to mobilize citizens, to monitor the political environment and the polling processes during the Mwenezi East by-election that was held on 8 April 2017. The by-election was important in gauging electoral preparedness of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) ahead of the 2018 General Election.Click on the link below to download the by election report
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
Summary of Violations
Between the 1st and the 17th of February 2017, Heal Zimbabwe recorded a total of 31 violations. All the violations fell in three categories, threats of violence (intimidation), forced contributions/attendance to political gatherings and partisan distribution of food aid. The highest violations involved intimidation characterised by threats of violence, withdrawal from food aid beneficiation recording 76% of the total violations followed by 18% of forced financial contributions towards the 21st Birthday celebrations of the Head of State and Government, President Mugabe. The district recording highest violations was Muzarabani and Mwenezi with 6 and 5 violation cases, respectively.
Among the total violations recorded, it is notable that intimidation is emerging from political parties, ZANU PF in particular, that is reorganizing its party structures including selling cards. The party is already preparing campaigns for the 2018 elections yet intimidating people to buy membership cards by reminding them about the past electoral violence, threatening them with food aid withdrawal or job losses (for those mainly in government positions). Heal Zimbabwe is concerned that while it is constitutional for political parties to campaign and mobilize to boost their support base, doing so using threats of violence, withdrawal of food aid and job losses is unethically wrong and it amounts to undue political influence on the electorate.
Click on the link below to download the Heal Zimbabwe weekly Human Rights Violations report
Click on the link below to download the Mwenezi East Constituency review
Click on the link below to download the Heal Zimbabwe January 2017 Conflict update report
In a move that is expected to build social cohesion and peace in Makoni ward 12, a peace club established by a community that works with Heal Zimbabwe, Tasimuka peace club has utilised its collaborative neutral platforms (nhimbes) to encourage community leaders to pledge for peace ahead of the 2018 elections.
On 06 February 2017, Tasimuka peace club organised a nhimbe that ran under the theme, ”I am a Peace Champion”. The nhimbe saw the peace club mobilise 85 community members to fill in potholes of a road that leads to a local school, Mupoperi Primary school. In attendance were Village heads Chitsa, Mupoperi and Musariri. Ward Councillor Obert Gonzo, who is also the peace club chairperson also attended.
In his address, Councillor Gonzo highlighted the importance of maintaining peace as it helps build social cohesion.”We cannot overlook the importance of peace in our communities, peaceful communities bring social cohesion and development, he said. Village head Mupoperi also weighed in encouraging community members that building peace was the responsibility of everyone.”Prevalence of peace is everyone’s responsibility therefore everyone should play his or her part to ensure that we have peaceful elections. In the past we have realised that if we are divided along political lines, our efforts towards peace do not yield much”, he said
As part of pledging to uphold peace in the area, some community members and leaders appended their signatures to a banner as a commitment to maintain peace ahead of the 2018 elections. The peace club banner will be the peace club’s advocacy tool to campaign for peaceful elections in the area. The peace pledges will also be used by the peace club to make follow up on community members and leaders on the need to maintain peace in local communities.
Heal Zimbabwe has been using nhimbes in local communities to bring communities together thus rebuilding relations and promoting tolerance. The process has contributed immensely towards improved community cohesion and have helped reduce conflicts and violence.
Heal Zimbabwe observed that the balloting day was undoubtedly peaceful, albeit few
incidences of intimidation. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Police were able
to maintain order within polling stations and broadly within the constituency. Only violations
were recorded that involved intimidation and recording of people’s at the polling station.
However, the political environment before the polling day was outstandingly polarised with
intimidation (56%), vote buying1 and partisan distribution of food aid and farming inputs
(21%). There were also isolated cases of assault (1%), disrupted political gatherings (1%),
forced attendance to political gatherings (12%) and destruction of campaign materials (9%)
Click on the link below to download the Bikita West by election report