Heal Zimbabwe notes with concern the economic crisis that has plunged the country into a wave of uncertainty and turmoil. It is Heal Zimbabwe’s view that if government fails to address the current economic crisis that has seen prices for basic commodities skyrocketing; the country might descent into political turmoil and upheaval.
In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe calls for an urgent citizen driven national dialogue to arrest the obtaining dire economic situation and looming political turmoil in Zimbabwe. The current economic crisis and political circumstances in the country are ominous and puts the country on the verge of civil unrest. Both the Citizens and the Government of Zimbabwe will not benefit from the imminent civil unrest, hence the pressing need to convene a national dialogue to avert the crisis.
The year 2019 has commenced with deepening economic crises with civil servants including teachers, nurses and doctors among other employees downing their tools for salary adjustments pegged in United States Dollars. Fuel shortages and price hikes of basic commodities are increasingly becoming common with some service providers already charging goods in foreign currency (United States Dollars). Protesting employees have already experienced harsh treatment including; arrests and summary dismissal from work among other punitive measures which further frustrates any conciliatory engagements.
These and other indications clearly spell out a national tragedy which all Zimbabwean citizens, including workers, the church, political parties and the Government among other stakeholders must unite to avert . Heal Zimbabwe; therefore, proposes a three-step engagement process to avert the national crisis;
1.Citizens’ National Summit: All citizens must come together to collectively share and document their grievances, issues and concerns. All Zimbabweans from across the political divide including women, youth, children and people living with disabilities, must drive the process and collectively define the current crisis facing the country and how they would want it addressed.
2.National Political Dialogue: ‘An All Stakeholders Summit’ mediated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) must be initiated. A national political dialogue should ensure that collective grievances from the citizens are reflected and turned into a national recovery plan. The national dialogue should generate a clear roadmap that salvages the country from collapsing. The government, churches and civic organizations must support the political dialogue and appreciate the people’s grievances, issues and concerns.
3.National Recovery Roadmap: A collective people driven national roadmap must be implemented that is hinged on transparency and accountability. High levels of political will and a mediated support from regional and international institutions will be essential.
With this proposition, Heal Zimbabwe calls for a genuine, transparent and non-partisan national dialogue and process that will rescue the country descending into political unrest.
Community members in Tsholotsho North have noted that quality health services is key to the development of the district. This came out during a community dialogue meeting in Tsholotsho North ward 5 organised by a community peace club established by a community that works with Heal Zimbabwe. The objective of the dialogue meeting was to discuss challenges that are faced by community members in accessing health services at Sipepa clinic. The dialogue was a follow up on the Duty Bearers training that was conducted earlier in the month where it was unanimously agreed that there was need to engage clinic personnel and the various Health committees. The dialogue was attended by community members who include Traditional leaders, Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members, women groups and youths.
The dialogue meeting afforded community members an opportunity to interact with representatives from the Health Centre Committee (HCC) and the Health Advisory Board (HAB) and highlight challenges they faced in accessing health services at Sipepa clinic. Among the issues highlighted by community members are shortages of drugs and lack of medical personnel at Sipepa clinic. Community members also noted access to quality health was a constitution right provided for by Section 76 of the constitution that highlights that, “Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to have access to basic health-care services, including reproductive health-care services”. Community members further noted that provision of quality health services is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer and are more productive
As a way forward, HCC and HAB were assigned to take up the issue with clinic officials at Sipepa clinic and later on conduct a feedback meeting where they will appraise the community. The dialogue meeting come against a background where Heal Zimbabwe community peace structures across are conducting Social Accountability engagement platforms across the country’s 210 constituencies. The Social accountability dialogue meetings are meant to ensure that community leaders together with the local community work together for the development of their communities.
Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Rural Women. The theme for this year is “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”. This years’ theme places empowerment of rural women at the heart of fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Rural women are often exposed to all forms of abuse due to poverty, patriarchy and marginalisation.The main forms of violence against women that are experienced during times of conflicts relate (but are not limited) to theft, physical abuse and assault, psychological abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assault (including rape), reproduction violence which can be linked to sexual violence (such as unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, complications from high risk pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases) and exploitation such as overpricing of goods and services.
The theme for this year is a clarion call for governments across the world to put in place infrastructure and services that ensure that rural women and girls are empowered and protected from abuse and vulnerabilities such as political violence. In pursuit of SDG 5 (that provides for Gender equality), Heal Zimbabwe has since its inception worked with rural women by establishing community structures such as community peace clubs, Community Action Accountability Teams (CAATs) and Women Safe Spaces for Reconciliation(WSSR). Through these community structures rural women have defied odds by rallying communities together for peace building initiatives such as collaborative neutral platforms (nhimbes) that help build social cohesion and peace in local communities. Rural women have also managed to engage with various community stakeholders such as Traditional leaders and local government structures to champion development and peace in their communities. With the assistance of HZT, the women have managed to mediate conflicts and conduct peace dialogues within their communities. The CAATs have also empowered women to participate actively in developmental issues such as budget consultations.
On the occasion of this historic day, Heal Zimbabwe calls upon the Government to fully operationalize the Zimbabwe Gender Commission by availing adequate resources so that it can effectively fulfill its constitutional mandate of “investigating possible violations related to gender and recommend prosecution for criminal violations of rights relating to gender”.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 provides for Gender Equality, which is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Providing women with platforms that help them engage Duty Bearers help improve their representation in political and economic decision-making processes.
It is in pursuit of such a goal that a women led Community Accountability Action Team (CAAT) conducted a community interface meeting in Zaka ward 19 on 6 October 2018.The meeting offered an opportunity for community members to engage with duty bearers on critical human rights issues that affect their community. The meeting was attended by a total of 57 people (31 men and 26 women). Among them were 4 village heads, ward 19 Councillor, 2 teachers and 3 village health workers, Health Centre Committee members from Jerera satellite clinic, Siyawareva clinic and St Antony (Musiso)Hospital.
Issues discussed include unfair distribution of inputs, corruption and environmental pollution. Community members noted that these issues posed a serious threat to social cohesion and fuelled conflicts in communities. Community members also noted that the unavailability of medication at most clinics fuel dissent and conflicts in the area. This is because health facilities provide a neutral meeting point to bring conflicting parties to discuss mutually beneficial interventions with the support of health workers who are ideally placed because of their professional and ethical position within the community. Community members also noted that access to quality health was a fundamental human right that is enshrined in Section 76 of the constitution. This provision states that, “Every citizen has the right to have access to basic health-care services, including reproductive health-care services”
Community members also lamented the continued meddling of political parties in the distribution of Agriculture inputs and food aid. Community members resolved that ward Councillors were supposed to convene ward assembly meetings where the District Administrator will be invited and proffer solutions to a plethora of problems devilling the community. Further to this, Heal Zimbabwe will facilitate for affected community members to report cases to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) in line with Section 233(a) that compel independent commission to support and entrench human rights and democracy.
A CAAT is a group of women and youths from diverse political and socio-economic backgrounds working together to build peace and demand social accountability from duty bearers. Heal Zimbabwe has in the past trained CAAT members in Community social accountability, governance and democracy. Interface meetings are just one of the strategies employed by CAATs to hold duty bearers to account and promote community participation in democratic processes.
In a move that is aimed at improving leadership, accountability and good governance, Heal Zimbabwe has taken Social Accountability trainings to Tsholotsho North. On 27 and 28 September 2018, Heal Zimbabwe conducted a Policy engagement and accountability training for 25 duty bearers. The trainings are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s objective to enhance better social service delivery and improve transparency and accountability among local leaders. The Duty Bearers included 5 Traditional leaders, 4 Village Health Workers, 3 Disaster Risk Management committee members, 4 Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) chairpersons, 4 School Development Committee (SDC) members and 5 Health committee members.
The Duty Bearers noted that while Social Accountability was a key ingredient in the attainment of an accountable leadership, political interference especially on the work of Traditional leaders fueled unaccountable leadership.”While the constitution is explicit on constitutional roles of Traditional leaders (Section 281 (2)b) that help entrench accountable practices, such as not acting in a partisan manner, political interference remains a serious problem”, said one Traditional leader. Duty Bearers also noted that while Section 75 and 76 of the constitution provides for the right to education and health, the realization and enjoyment of those rights remains a pipe dream. Added to this, Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 4 provide for good health and well being and quality education respectively. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (or Global Goals for Sustainable Development) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly as part of a wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”Most schools in Tsholotsho still bar children from attending lessons due to non-payment of school fees, even the school fees payment plan for most parents are too steep given the current economic situation. At the local clinic, there is no medication as the clinic authorities do not even inform the community on problems affecting the smooth operation of the clinic”, said one School Development Committee member.
Some of the issues that came out during the training include community exclusion in key decision making processes thereby hindering effective participation and respect of human rights. Notable examples include partisan allocation of developmental projects which result in lack of trust and conflicts. As a way forward, the Duty Bearers resolved to conduct dialogue meetings with SDCs and local clinic representatives where they can discuss issues that hinder the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms such as the right to education and health.
Heal Zimbabwe will continue to conduct forums for interface meetings where duty bearers and community members dialogue and discuss on pertinent issues affecting their communities.
Community leaders in Zaka and Gutu have vowed to engage citizens in a bid to promote good governance and improve service delivery in local communities. This was revealed during a Duty bearer’s training workshop in Zaka and Gutu which was conducted by Heal Zimbabwe in partnership with Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD) from the 12th to the 15th of September 2018. The major aim of the training was to capacitate duty bearers and raise awareness on their constitutional obligations as custodians of local communities in grassroots level policy engagement and accountability. The training was attended by a total of 48 community leaders who hold different portfolios within the local communities. The portfolios include 19 traditional leaders, 10 School Development Committee members, 6 Village health workers, 3 councillors, 2 clinic committee members, 1 Agritex officer and 2 Action for Accountability group leaders.
The Duty Bearers trainings come at a time after community members were first trained in Social accountability and policy engagement and later initiated awareness raising campaigns that were conducted in various communities. The training saw duty bearers being capacitated in key concepts in social accountability in line with their roles and responsibilities. Issues raised during the trainings include lack of knowledge on the roles and responsibilities of community leaders which makes it very difficult for them to engage communities on key developmental issues within their communities resulting in human rights abuses, corruption and underdevelopment. “Lack of knowledge especially on the roles and responsibilities of a leader, be it a village head, councillor or SDC representative undermines service delivery and leads to human rights abuses”said Zaka ward 33 Councillor Peter Imbayarwo. Participants also noted that lack of such knowledge also perpetuated a culture of misinformation among community members.
Community leaders embraced the training and highlighted that it will go a long way in improving the capacity of leaders in service delivery. Major challenges raised include the interference of political figures such as Legislators and political parties in the execution of their duties which affect the smooth implementation of developmental initiatives. As such the duty bearers who attended the trainings recommended that similar trainings be offered to Legislators and Provincial Ministers so that they initiate policies that help curb vices such as corruption thereby promoting transparency and accountability. Community leaders further resolved to conduct consultative and feedback meetings as part of raising awareness on social accountability and policy engagement.
The trainings will assist Duty Bearers to improve their accountability and transparency mechanisms. As a follow up on the trainings, Heal Zimbabwe will facilitate forums for interface platforms where duty bearers and community members engage and dialogue on critical issues affecting their communities. The trainings in Gutu and Zaka are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s initiative to improve social service delivery and inculcate a culture where human rights are upheld across the country. The organisation will also conduct similar Duty Bearers trainings in areas such as Tsholotsho, Gokwe, Chipinge, and Makoni among other areas.
In a move that is aimed at ensuring that peace and tolerance prevails ahead of elections, Heal Zimbabwe through its National Peace campaign dubbed,”13 Million Voices for Peace” scaled up its collaborative neutral platforms. The platforms sought to encourage political parties, youths and ordinary citizens to uphold peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 plebiscite.
From 21-28 July 2018, the organization initiated a series of collaborative platforms that include road shows, Sports for Peace concerts and peace concerts. The concerts provided an opportunity for aspiring candidates to pledge for peace publicly and that commit to shun political violence. Heal Zimbabwe initiated peace concerts in Bulawayo, Harare, Gwanda, Gweru, Chipinge, Zaka and Gokwe. Several aspiring candidates from various political parties appreciated the importance of peace and vowed to uphold it during their rigorous campaigns. To date, the organisation through its early warning and early response committees has noted that several aspiring candidates in areas where the organisation initiated peace concerts such as Gokwe, Zaka, Chipinge and Bikita have preached peace during their campaigns.
Added to this, through Youth Sports for Peace tournaments, community peace clubs engaged youths from various political parties who participated in sports for peace tournaments. Peace tournaments were conducted in Tsholotsho, Gokwe, Murehwa, Mutoko, Zaka, Chipinge, Mutasa, Makoni, Rushinga, Bikita and Gutu. At these tournaments, youths were able to build tolerance and discussed its importance ahead of elections. The need to engage youths for peace initiatives was informed by the fact that in past elections, youths have been used as merchants of violence by politicians. Community Peace clubs have reported that youths from various areas where peace tournaments were conducted, have embraced peace tournaments and have been carrying out regular sports for peace tournaments in a bid to build peace ahead of the elections.
As a way of responding to reports from various local communities where they fingered some Traditional Leaders as perpetrators of human rights violations ahead of elections, the organisation conducted several Traditional leaders trainings in areas such as Mazowe, Muzarabani, Mbire, Bikita, Zaka, Mutasa and Mutoko. The objective of the trainings were to conscientize Traditional leaders on the importance of peace and their constitutional responsibilities such as not violating the fundamental human rights and freedoms of any person as enunciated in Section 281 (d) of the constitution. Generally, some of the Traditional leaders highlighted that the incessant pressure from some political parties forced them to engage in human rights violations and further highlighted that in some cases they have been threatened that if they fail to comply with directives, they were going to lose their posts. The majority of traditional leaders promised to encourage people within their villages to promote peaceful coexistence.
As the nation goes for polls tomorrow, Heal Zimbabwe continues to call on political parties to shun violence and adhere to principles set out in the Political Parties code of conduct that criminalize acts of intimidation and violence. Political parties must also enforce the peace pledge that was facilitated by the NPRC in a bid to promote collective prevention of violence and conflicts as a strategy for promoting lasting peace. Heal Zimbabwe through its national peace campaign dubbed, 13 Million Voices for Peace will continue to campaign rigorously for peace even after the 2018 plebiscite.
Heal Zimbabwe recorded a total of 82 human rights violations from 23 districts. Bikita, Hurungwe and Buhera recorded the highest number of human rights violations with 10 cases each. Bikita and Buhera recorded the highest number of human rights violations in the previous report together with Muzarabani, and Mt Darwin which recorded 6 cases each. The recurrence of human rights violations in Bikita, Mt Darwin and Buhera instill fear among communities which negatively impacts on the free participation and expression of citizens’ rights in the upcoming elections.
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On 14 July 2018, Heal Zimbabwe in collaboration with Women Institute for Leadership Development (WILD), Emtonjeni Women’s Forum (EWF), Habakkuk Trust, Christian Alliance, National Youth Development Trust (NYDT), and Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) launched a Get out and Vote campaign in Bulawayo. The objective of the campaign is to mobilize citizens to go out and vote on 30 July 2018 and upholding peace and political tolerance. The campaign launch saw several artists taking part in a peace concert where they also added their voice on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. The concert was attended by approximately 5000 people mainly youths.
Before the concert commenced, a representative from Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) took time explain the process of voting and emphasized on the secrecy of the ballot. This helped dispel rumours that characterize the voting process. The major highlight of the concert was when aspiring candidates pledged for peace and vowed to play their part in ensuring that the 2018 elections will be peaceful. The aspiring candidates also encouraged community members to exercise political tolerance and highlighted that this was critical especially during campaigns.”As aspiring candidates let’s encourage our supporters to uphold peace and tolerance. Building peace must be everyone’s responsibility”, said one aspiring candidate. Ordinary citizens particularly youths from various political parties also pledged for peace and vowed to shun violence as elections draw closer.
The launch in Bulawayo come at a time when the organization has intensified its campaigns on peace by using various initiatives such as Sports for Peace Tournaments, collaborative neutral platforms (nhimbes) and peace concerts in a bid to raise awareness on the need for peace. These campaigns seek to mobilize citizens to commit and play an active role in ensuring that peace prevails before, during and after the 2018 elections.
Heal Zimbabwe notes the increase in cases of violence among political parties as elections draw closer. On 11 July 2018, one person reportedly died while several others were injured when violence broke out in Chitungwiza after suspected ZANU PF activists assaulted residents accusing them of supporting MDC Alliance President, Nelson Chamisa. Heal Zimbabwe has also recorded several cases of assault and intimidation mostly in Masvingo Province, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West. This is despite the fact that political parties participating in the elections signed a peace pledge on 26 June 2018 where they committed themselves to a peaceful campaign before, during and after elections.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that while this was a progressive step aimed at inculcating a culture of peace and tolerance, the escalation of cases of violence is a betrayal of the historic peace pledge by political parties. Political parties must demonstrate sincerity on the need for peace by reigning in on supporters that perpetrate violence that seek to make the peace pledge of no effect.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), the broker of the peace pledge must without delay engage multiple stakeholders such as civil society in a bid to insulate citizens against acts of violence and intimidation ahead of the elections. This can be done by swiftly establishing effective early warning and early response systems that will help detect areas of potential conflicts, disputes and take appropriate action in compliance with section 252 (g) of the constitution. While the designating of trial magistrates to deal with cases of politically motivated violence by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is commendable, the magistrates must swiftly begin prosecuting people implicated in cases of politically motivated violence.
Added to this, there is also need to strengthen multi-party liaison committees right from the ward, district and up to national level. If strengthened, these committees can help minimize cases of violence as they are a form of conflict resolution mechanism among political parties. Further to this, political parties must uphold and adhere to principles set out in the Political Parties code of conduct that criminalizes acts of intimidation and violence.