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.

Heal Zimbabwe is gravely concerned by the use of violence by the police to disperse protesting National University of Science and Technology (NUST) students on 26 February 2018. The students were protesting over the continued strike by lecturers which was affecting their academic studies.

 As a way of responding to the protest, police used tear smoke canisters and water cannons to disperse students. The police also unleashed dogs on the unassuming students injuring several of them. A total of 61 students were arrested. Heal Zimbabwe notes that crushing peaceful demonstrations using brute force is not only barbaric but unconstitutional. Freedom to petition and demonstrate is provided for in Section 59 of the constitution that stipulate that, “every person has the right to demonstrate and present a petition.”

 Heal Zimbabwe urges the police to desist from resorting to arbitrary arrests as a means of crushing demonstrations but rather find peaceful and non-violent means that help address concerns raised by protestors. Heal Zimbabwe also implores college authorities to find amenable solutions to students concerns and  adhere to democratic principles such as creating safe places of higher learning where students enjoy their fundamental human rights and freedoms.

 Heal Zimbabwe further calls for the setting up of an Independent Complaints mechanism as provided for in section 210 of the Constitution. The Complaints mechanism is responsible for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.

Heal Zimbabwe welcomes the appointment of new National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Chairperson, Retired Justice Selo Masole Nare by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 20 February 2018. Justice Nare replaces the late Cyril Ndebele, who passed away on 07 October 2016 in Bulawayo.

 Heal Zimbabwe views the appointment as progressive as it will ensure that the NPRC commences its urgent constitutional responsibility of ensuring post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation. Cognizant of the fact that Zimbabwe continues to witness cases of politically motivated violence which manifest in different forms, the role of the NPRC in building peace as the country prepares for the 2018 elections will be key.

 HZT would also want to urge the NPRC to use a bottom up approach to issues of healing and reconciliation by accommodating views from communities gathered especially during the NPRC bill hearings in 2016 and 2017 and also views emanating from the public consultative meetings currently taking place in provinces. This will allow communities to play a leading role in issues of healing and reconciliation within their localities. HZT also implores the NPRC to quickly furnish all Stakeholders and Zimbabweans in general with the NPRC Plan of Action so that citizens are informed and better prepared to engage the peace Commission.

 

 

Heal Zimbabwe strongly condemns the intraparty political violence that took place during at the burial of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) President Morgan Richard Tsvangirai in Humanikwa Village, Buhera on 20 February 2018. A group of youths attacked Vice President, Thokozani Khupe and the party’s Secretary General, Mr Douglas Mwonzora accusing them of fanning divisions in the party. Heal Zimbabwe is equally concerned over the ill-treatment and harassment of both Tsvangirai’s widow, Mrs Elizabeth Macheka Tsvangirai and his mother Gogo Tsvangirai by some party members during the funeral.

 Heal Zimbabwe subscribes to the principle of non-violent resolution of conflicts and views tolerance of divergent political views as a key ingredient in the attainment of peace and social cohesion in the country. In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores the MDC-T to find amicable and peaceful means to address conflicts within the party. Heal Zimbabwe notes that if such conflicts remain unresolved, they can compromise prospects for peaceful elections.

 Heal Zimbabwe also implores Political parties to 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;

Heal Zimbabwe implores the police to apprehend and enforce the law by bringing to book all perpetrators of violence. Heal Zimbabwe also urges political parties to reign in on their supporters so that they desist from perpetrating violence.

Heal Zimbabwe is greatly concerned by the use of slogans that have potential of inciting political violence by political parties particularly by the ruling party, ZANU PF and MDC-T. The slogans chanted by these two political parties during their rallies are inciteful and have violence undertones. Slogans such as “Pasi neMDC…” (down with MDC) and “chihurumende che ZANU PF mudenga, icho varoverei pasi!” (Lift the ZANU PF government up, crash it down hard) incite hate and animosity among political players. On 07 February 2018, while addressing a rally in Guruve, President Mnangagwa chanted a slogan “pasi nezvimbwasungata, pasi nemhandu”. The slogan if loosely translated means “down with enemies and sellouts” in direct reference to G40 members.

 Heal Zimbabwe is greatly concerned that while the various leaders of these political parties have openly denounced political violence on one hand, their party systems and structures appear to celebrate violence via slogans. It is against such a background that political parties must therefore start inculcating a new political culture within their supporters that underscores the need for peace and political tolerance.

 As the nation readies for elections, political parties must now take a leading role campaigning for peace and tolerance. It is Heal Zimbabwe’s view that denigrating slogans and all forms of political violence must be avoided if the nation is to conduct credible elections. 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.

 Under its National Peace campaign dubbed :13 Million Voices for Peace aimed at campaigning for peaceful 2018 elections, Heal Zimbabwe will engage the various political parties on the need to make public pledges for peace. The pledges will be used to hold the political parties to account in the event that they backtrack on previous pledges for peace.

 As the nation readies for the 2018 elections, Heal Zimbabwe also calls on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to develop and implement programmes that promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe. Added to this, the NPRC must, in consultation with civil society and other relevant stakeholders develop mechanisms for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes and take appropriate preventive measures to ensure that the 2018 elections are conducted in a peaceful environment.

 

On 04 February 2018, Heal Zimbabwe in collaboration with Zimrights, Election Resource Centre (ERC), Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Habakkuk Trust, Women Institute in Leadership (WILD) and National Youth for Development Trust (NYDT) hosted a peace concert in Cowdray Park in Bulawayo.

 The objective of the peace concert was to mobilize citizens to register to vote as well as popularize the national peace campaign: 13 Million Voices for Peace and afford citizens an opportunity to pledge to uphold peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The peace concert was attended by an estimated number of 7 000 people.

 The major highlight of the concert was the overwhelming number of youths who were pledging to uphold peace ahead of the 2018 plebiscite. In an interview with Heal Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the peace concert, several youths hailed the peace concert as it taught them to be tolerant of each other’s political view. The youth were also able to make public peace pledges before community members. “The peace concert has taught us young people to practice tolerance and build peace among ourselves”, said one youth. Several youths then took to the stage and made public pledges to uphold peace and urged community members to shun political violence and be peaceful.

 Musician, Madlela Skhobokhobo congratulated youths for heeding the call to register to vote in their numbers. Dance hall musician, Winky D also weighed in by underscoring the need for youths to be peaceful and encouraged them to be peaceful during voter registration and ahead of the 2018 elections. “I’m happy that we have all registered to vote but when its election time, lets vote in unity and peace”, he said before receiving a thunderous applause from the crowd

 Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials also took time to explain the BVR process in detail and applauded the organizations for such an initiative that seeks to encourage citizens to vote and be peaceful ahead of the 2018 elections. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) also took time to educate citizens on their rights and highlighted that forcing people to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips is a criminal offence hence must be reported to police and the ZHRC. A total of 594 people managed to register on the day. Heal Zimbabwe and its partner organizations also encouraged citizens to register and vote in peace as the 2018 elections loom.

 The peace concert in Bulawayo come at a time when Heal Zimbabwe has launched a nationwide peace campaign by conducting peace concerts as a way of encouraging citizens to uphold and pledge for peace ahead of the 2018 elections. In the past, the organization conducted a series of Youth Sports for Peace tournaments across the country so as to encourage youths to shun political violence and embrace peace. The youth tournaments were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign dubbed #13MilVoices4Peace, an initiative that aims to rally Zimbabweans to uphold peace ahead of the 2018 election.

Youth in Epworth have vowed to uphold peace and shun violence ahead of the 2018 elections. This came out during a peace concert conducted in Epworth by Heal Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) on 20 January 2018. The main act for the peace concert was renowned Dancehall artist, Winky D.

 The objective of the peace concert was to popularize the HZT national peace campaign: 13 Million Voices for Peace and afford citizens an opportunity to pledge to uphold peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The peace concert was also aimed at mobilizing community members to register to vote ahead of the 2018 elections. The peace concert was attended by an estimated number of 8 000 people.

 As part of rallying citizens to pledge for peace ahead of the 2018 elections, Heal Zimbabwe set up a peace pledge desk that was adjacent to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) mobile registration centre where youth would pledge for peace soon after registering to vote. As part of pledging for peace, youth would fill in their personal details and append signatures to peace pledge forms indicating that they had publicly agreed to preach peace and shun political violence ahead of the elections. Heal Zimbabwe will use the peace pledge forms in its advocacy and follow up initiatives to campaign for peaceful elections. A total of 4 230 people pledged to uphold peace.

 Added to this, Heal Zimbabwe’s photo booth allowed for people who had pledged for peace to have photo sessions where each community member would reaffirm their commitment to pledge for peace by posing for a photo with placards that denounce political violence. Further to this, Heal Zimbabwe will use the peace pledges to hold community members accountable in the event that they renege on their commitment to uphold peace.

 ZEC officials also took time to explain the BVR process in detail and applauded the organization for such an initiative that seeks to ensure that the 2018 elections are peaceful. A total of 725 people managed to register on the day. Heal Zimbabwe and its partner organizations also encouraged citizens to register and vote in peace as the 2018 elections loom.

 Winky D also added his voice on the need for youth to uphold peace by encouraging youths to be peaceful during voter registration and ahead of the 2018 elections. He went on further to register to vote and encouraged youths who had not yet registered to follow suit.

 The peace concert in Epworth come at a time when Heal Zimbabwe has launched a nationwide peace campaign by conducting peace concerts as a way of encouraging citizens to uphold and pledge for peace ahead of the 2018 elections. In the past, the organization conducted a series of Youth Sports for Peace tournaments across the country so as to encourage youths to shun political violence and embrace peace. The youth tournaments were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign dubbed #13MilVoices4Peace, an initiative that aims to rally Zimbabweans to uphold peace ahead of the 2018 election.

Heal Zimbabwe condemns the organized acts of politically motivated violence that took place in Chitungwiza, Unit N on 22 October 2017 where suspected ZANU PF youth went on a rampage assaulting MDC-T supporters and destroying their houses. A total of 10 MDC-T activists sustained serious injuries and have since been hospitalized.

 These latest acts of violence come hardly a week after three MDC-T supporters were assaulted by unknown assailants on the 18th of October 2017 in Chitungwiza, UNIT J. The unknown assailants accused the three of distributing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) fliers arguing that only the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was mandated to do so. The matter was reported at Town Centre police station and no arrests have been made so far.

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that such organized acts of violence especially during electoral processes such as voter registration paint a gloomy picture of what lies ahead as the nation prepares for the 2018 elections. Such acts of violence also expose the high level of intolerance among political players which alone poses a serious threat to the holding of free, fair, peaceful and credible elections in 2018. Heal Zimbabwe implores political parties to reign in on errant supporters who perpetrate violence. The police must also launch a thorough investigation and apprehend the culprits.

 The upsurge in cases of politically motivated violence also justify why Heal Zimbabwe has been on record advocating for the full operationalization of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), a constitutional body charged with developing mechanisms for early detection of areas of conflicts and disputes and to take appropriate preventive measures.

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