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 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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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.

 

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

Rural women leaders who are part of Heal Zimbabwe community peace structures namely Community Action Accountability Teams (CAATs) and Women Safe Spaces for Reconciliation (WSSR) have agreed on a wide range of demands for free, fair and peaceful elections.

 This was agreed during a National Women’s Summit on elections conducted by Heal Zimbabwe on 27 April 2018 in Harare. The meeting brought together 250 rural women leaders from the 210 constituencies. The summit was held in pursuit of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (SCR1325), that recognizes the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and peace-building. The resolution also   stresses the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security. Some of the key provisions of this resolution include the need for increased participation and representation of women at all levels of decision-making and the need for attention to specific protection needs of women and girls in conflict.

 The women’s summit brought together various stakeholders who include Commissioners from Independent Commissions that support Democracy which are the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), legislators and Civil Society Organizations (CSOS). The main objective of the indaba was to afford rural women who are part of Heal Zimbabwe community peace structures an opportunity to meaningfully input in electoral processes in Zimbabwe and come up with minimum standards for the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections.

 In his opening remarks, Heal Zimbabwe Executive Director, Rashid Mahiya underscored the need for women to take up leadership roles and actively participate in electoral processes by not only voting but also running for political office. “Heal Zimbabwe will continue to work with women since they are key stakeholders in the attainment of peace and social cohesion. Added to this, women are capable leaders who can champion unity and peace in local communities..” he said.

 NPRC Commissioner, Netty Musanhu in her address highlighted that the NPRC has a Victims and Gender Committee responsible for investigating violations related to gender and further revealed that since women suffered the brunt of political violence, the NPRC was open to receive complaints through its complaints handling mechanism. “..There is need for women from across the political divide to unite and repel the forces of violence. Women are the worst affected by political violence, hence the need by the NPRC to work closely with women…” she said. Commissioner Musanhu also highlighted that the NPRC has taken note of the various reconciliation issues across the provinces during its stakeholder consultative meetings. She also acknowledged the immense role being played by rural women leaders to build peace and social cohesion in local communities.

 Other presenters such as Legislator Priscilla Misihairambwi and Concillia Chinanzvavana encouraged women to actively participate in electoral processes and also promised to continue to advocate for women’s rights in Parliament. Some of the issues that came out during the summit include the fact that most rural women are not aware of their human rights, there was increase in the demand of serial numbers by Traditional leaders and ZANU PF structures. Stakeholders noted that this form of intimidation discourages women from running for political office.

 The following are some of the minimum demands for free, fair, credible and peaceful elections agreed at the Women’s Summit on peace:

Ø  Independent commissions such as ZEC, ZHRC and NPRC must carry out robust awareness campaigns on the need for peace in rural communities ahead of the 2018 elections.

Ø  Political parties must make public pledges to uphold peace and report supporters who perpetrate violence to the police.

Ø  Traditional leaders must allow citizens and CSOs to campaign for peace in rural communities.

Ø  Traditional leaders must be apolitical and allow people to vote freely without being intimidated.

Ø  International observers must be deployed before elections so that they can also witness the rampant intimidation around the BVR process.

Ø  Soldiers and the police must not intimidate citizens but be there to serve and protect the rights of citizens.

Ø  All political parties must be afforded an opportunity to campaign freely and must have access to media.

Ø  The police must arrest all perpetrators of violence without fear or favor.

 Heal Zimbabwe through its National Peace campaign will continue to campaign aggressively on the need for citizens to uphold peace before, during and after the 2018 elections.

Communities in Mbire and Mutasa have expressed grave concern over the politicization of government food aid particularly from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. This was revealed during a series of collaborative neutral platforms carried out by community peace clubs established by communities that work with Heal Zimbabwe from 10-21 April 2018.

The collaborative neutral platforms were attended by a total of 14 Village heads, 5 Councillors and 16 Village Development Committee (VIDCOs) members. A total of 600 people attended the neutral platforms. The collaborative platforms included clean up campaigns, harvesting of crops and shelling of maize. Community members highlighted that in most cases, Councillors and Traditional leaders (mostly Village heads) were denying food aid to people who refuse to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips. They also noted that this has created serious political labelling which continues to be a hurdle in the attainment of social cohesion and peace. “Traditional Leaders and Councillor deny food aid if you fail to submit your serial number of your voter registration slip on time”, said one community member from Mbire.

One peace club member from Mutasa pointed that although forcing citizens to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips was illegal, the responsible authorities such as the police were not making effort to deal with reports. “We have reported numerous cases of Traditional Leaders and Councillors to the police but to this day, none has been arrested. This is worrying because as we go for elections, we are worried that the police might not swiftly respond to cases of political violence as was the case in 2008”, he said.

However, Communities acknowledged that from the time Heal Zimbabwe initiated Sports for Peace tournaments as part of its national peace campaign dubbed: 13 Million Voices for Peace #13MilVoices4Peace, there has been relative peace within communities. Community members also revealed that there has been a change of attitude by some perpetrators of violence who   pledged for peace and some even expressed desire to organize more peace tournaments within their areas. The national peace campaign is a nationwide peace campaign that seeks to encourage citizens to uphold and pledge for 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.

 

Community members in Gokwe, Mutoko, Murehwa, Mazowe, Makoni and Mbire have expressed concern over the continued involvement of Traditional leaders in partisan politics. This came out during a series of collaborative neutral platforms conducted by Heal Zimbabwe under its national peace campaign from 13 March to 13 April 2018. The objective of the collaborative platforms (nhimbes) was to raise awareness on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections.

The organisation through its 15 Community Peace Clubs, seven Women Safe Space for Reconciliation and two Community Based Organisations from the targeted districts mobilized community members to participate in nhimbes that included harvesting of crops, road gulley filling and clean up campaigns at schools and business centres. The nhimbes were attended by a total of nine Village heads, three Headmen, two Councillors, eight Ward Development Committee members (WADCO) and 11 Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members. A total of 880 community members were reached through the activities conducted. The nhimbes were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign: 13 Million Voices for Peace which seeks to raise public awareness on the need for peaceful participation in the upcoming 2018 elections.

Across the districts, community members who participated in the collaborative neutral platforms bemoaned the partisan nature of Traditional leaders which they noted as a hindrance to the attainment of peace and social cohesion. In some instances, Traditional leaders are forcing community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips and threatening to withdraw food aid from people who fail to comply. “We are living under fear here in Gokwe, Traditional leaders harass and intimidate us by threatening to deny us food aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare if we fail to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips”, said one community member from Gokwe.

Several community members who interacted with Heal Zimbabwe revealed that although they have reported some Traditional leaders to the local police, this has not deterred them as some are still carrying out the exercise. This is besides the fact that Section 281.1 (d) of the constitution points out that Traditional leaders must not; “violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person”. Community members further noted that because of the partisan nature of some Traditional leaders, communities were now living in fear and were worried that the secrecy of voting will be greatly compromised as elections draw near.

Heal Zimbabwe implores the Ministry of Local Government, Public works and National Housing to reign in on errant Traditional leaders who are meddling in partisan politics and violating fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens. Added to this, Political parties must desist from abusing Traditional leaders but rather use them as avenues to build tolerance and social cohesion in local communities. HZT has since forwarded all cases of human rights violation to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).

A Peace Club is a ward based community group of people who come together to promote peaceful coexistence in their communities. Peace club membership is drawn from diverse local community members that include traditional leaders, church leaders, women, youth, business people, people with disabilities and village health workers.

 

Heal Zimbabwe commends the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) for conducting its nationwide stakeholder consultative meetings from 19 February -03 March 2018. The objectives of the consultation meetings were to: 1) enhance stakeholder awareness of the NPRC, its mandate and functions, 2) provide a platform for stakeholders to feed into and shape the strategic priorities of the NPRC and to 3) map the local and regional level capacities for peace, healing and reconciliation. The NPRC is one of the Independent Commissions established under Chapter 12 of the constitution with a mandate to ensure post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation. The consultations came at a time after President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed the NPRC act into law on 05 January 2018.

 To afford communities an opportunity to participate in national healing processes, Heal Zimbabwe mobilized its community peace structures to attend the stakeholder meetings. Some of the topical issues raised by HZT peace structures include the need for the NPRC to set up early warning and early response mechanisms for the early detection of areas of potential conflicts, decentralization of the NPRC and dealing with violent episodes such as Gukurahundi and 2008 political violence.

 Below are some of the issues raised by HZT peace structures during the NPRC consultative meetings:

  • NPRC must set up early warning and early response systems for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes and take appropriate preventive measures
  • The Commission must Decentralize to ward and village level.
  • NPRC must raise awareness on the need for peace on radio and other media mediums.
  • The NPRC must also share reports of its work with people at the local community level.
  • The Commission must be independent when carrying out its mandate.
  • Perpetrators of previous human rights violations must be prosecuted.
  • NPRC must initiate dialogue among political parties on the need to prevent violence ahead of the 208 elections.
  • Victims of past political violence must be compensated.
  • The NPRC must put in place mechanisms such as psycho-social support for survivors of Gukurahundi who were raped, and tortured
  • The independent Commission must ensure protection of survivors of political violence.
  • NPRC must address Gukurahundi and initiate an inclusive healing and reconciliation process.
  • Gukurahundi Mass graves such as those at Bhalagwe must be turned into national shrines.

 Heal Zimbabwe commends the NPRC for engaging citizens to input into a healing and reconciliation framework. Of special mention is the acknowledgement by the NPRC that building peace is complex and long term hence deserves the input from different stakeholders such as civil society, religious groups among others.

 HZT envisions a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe that celebrates diversity in local communities. The organization will continue to advocate for a bottom up approach to healing and reconciliation processes.

Click on the link below to download the Pathways to Peace and Reconciliation publication

Issue 1 -Reconciliation Pathways

Heal Zimbabwe is gravely worried over the continued silence by Government over the missing of pro-democracy activist, Itai Dzamara. This is despite promises by Government to investigate and establish the whereabouts of Dzamara.

 Heal Zimbabwe would have expected President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government to speed up investigations on the whereabouts of Dzamara but till today he remains unaccounted for since 9 March 2015 when he was abducted by five unidentified men while he was at a barber shop in the Glen View suburb of Harare. This is despite the fact that President Mnangagwa made a commitment at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2016 while he was still Vice President to launch a thorough investigation into his disappearance.

 The fact that Dzamara continues missing and unaccounted for exposes Government’s insincerity in establishing his whereabouts. Dzamara just like any citizen deserves justice and the fact that he was abducted for democratically expressing his constitutional rights of petitioning and demonstrating is not only deplorable but inhumane. In addition, enforced abductions are illegal and are a violation of human rights freedoms and the Government’s constitutional mandate is to respect fundamental human rights and freedoms. To Heal Zimbabwe, enforced disappearance remain a serious violation of human rights and a crime. Section 53 of the Constitution provides for Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such fundamental human rights and freedoms are to be enjoyed by every citizen without selective application.

 On the occasion of his third anniversary of his enforced disappearance, Heal Zimbabwe implores the Government not to renege on its promise to establish the whereabouts of Dzamara but demonstrate willingness to ascertain the whereabouts of missing activist, Dzamara. Added to this, government must open a commission of enquiry on the whereabouts of Dzamara and ensure that those responsible for his abduction are apprehended. Heal Zimbabwe implores the Government to stop using abductions as a tool to deal with political opponents. Heal Zimbabwe views dialogue as a critical component in solving conflicts and promoting peaceful coexistence amongst communities, thus Heal Zimbabwe calls the Government to use nonviolence mechanisms such as dialogue to address issues raised by its citizens.

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