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 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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 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.

 

Heal Zimbabwe applauds the move by Independent Commissions particularly the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to set up a special committee made up of independent commissions and the police to facilitate swift handling of political violence cases. HZT views such a move as positive as it helps to reduce cases of politically motivated violence as the nation prepares for the 2018 elections.

 During an interview with the Sunday mail, ZEC Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said that: “The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has gone on record to condemn all forms of violence. We have also created dispute mechanisms to take care of that. “Political parties have a code of conduct which prevents them from electoral violence. They have agreed that they will enforce their own code of conduct. “The judiciary system has set up fast track courts that deal with politically motivated violence and we also need the police to investigate and send dockets to the courts on time. In fact, there are now special prosecutors and magistrates have been appointed to specially deal with such cases.”

 Justice Chigumba further revealed that the new mechanisms help victims of political violence to report freely. “What we need to do is to disseminate information or people to report, because nothing can be done if a report is not made. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is also playing a key role. “We will do it at a coordinated approach and form a special committee. It will be done at a national level but we will cascade it to provincial and district levels and say this is what we will be doing, she said.

 ZHRC deputy chairperson, Dr Ellen Sithole also underscored the willingness of the ZHRC to investigate cases of violence and deploy teams in communities. “The ZHRC also has an investigative mandate. The commission can investigate the conduct of any authority or person, where it is alleged that any of the human rights and freedoms set out in the Declaration of Human Rights (Chapter 4 of the Constitution) has been violated by that authority or person”, she said

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that such efforts will go a long way to address political violence which has remained a permanent feature during elections. While Heal Zimbabwe views this as a positive step towards minimising politically motivated violence, it is imperative to note such arrangements must be followed by the full implementation of constitutional provisions such as Section 210 that protect citizens against abuse by members of the security services. This section provides for an Independent Complains mechanism with a responsibility to receive and investigate 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. Also of paramount importance is the fact that independent commissions must decentralise their activities to ward and village level so that their services can be accessed by local communities.

 In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores independent commissions to continue working hand in glove with civic organisations since CSOs are extensively involved in monitoring, detecting and reporting timeously to cases of human rights violations.

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is “Press for Progress”. The theme underscores the need for communities to be gender inclusive and progress towards gender parity.

 To commemorate this historic day, a Women Safe Space for Reconciliation (WSSR) established by a community that works with Heal Zimbabwe in Gokwe North conducted a collaborative neutral platform in the form of a nhimbe at Ukomo Primary School in Gokwe North ward 24 on 07 March 2018. The objective of the clean-up campaign was to raise awareness on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. In her address, Eunice Dzviriri, the WSSR chairperson highlighted that there was need for communities to spread peace and exercise tolerance right from the home. “…As a community, lets ensure that we propagate message of peace and tolerance given that the country will conduct elections this year, peace begins with us all…”, she said. In the past, the group has carried out   income saving and lending schemes for women in a bid to propagate peace among fellow women in the community.

 Heal Zimbabwe fully appreciates that women have performed important roles as peace negotiators and peace educators in both families and society. Such roles contribute immensely to peace building and build the capacity of communities to prevent violent conflicts. Women have also acted as mediators and trauma healing counsellors. Over the years, Women survivors of political violence that work with Heal Zimbabwe have defied community norms and values by taking a leading role in spearheading the promotion of community peace, healing and reconciliation initiatives across Zimbabwe.

 To acknowledge that women are indeed key players in peace building, Heal Zimbabwe community structures such as WSSR, Community Accountability Action Teams (CAATs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and some Community Peace Clubs are led by women. These platforms create space for women to carry out small capacity building projects, mediate conflicts and discuss other pertinent issues that affect them.

 International Women’s day is a day that is celebrated on 08 March every year. The day also celebrates women’s economic, political and social achievements. Heal Zimbabwe will continue working with women to fully empower them to take leading roles in building peace and development in their areas. International women’s day offer an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable role played by women in building peace and social cohesion in their communities.

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 condemns in the strongest terms the use of violence against innocent civilians and journalists by the police which resulted in loss of life and injuries in Harare last night. On 22 February 2018, police officers had running battles with vendors and kombi drivers following a ban by the Ministry of Local Government prohibiting kombis from entering the central business district (CBD). This resulted in the police using teargas canisters and firing live bullets on unarmed civilians.  A total of three civilians lost their lives and many injured. Three journalists were also injured trying to cover the incident. Heal Zimbabwe perceives such act of barbarism as sad and uncalled for especially coming from law enforcers.

This incident clearly indicates that community members and citizens are not safe especially from the police who are supposed to protect them. Heal Zimbabwe also perceive the attack on journalists as a reversal of democratic rights provided for in the constitution under section 61 which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

 Heal Zimbabwe implores the Government under the Ministry of Local Government Public Works and National Housing, the police and Harare City Council to find peaceful ways of resolving the impasse emanating from the ban of kombis. The organisation further calls for justice to be served and ensure that the culprits responsible for the killings are arrested and brought before the courts.

 Heal Zimbabwe in line with section 210 of the constitution calls for the Government with immediate effect to set up an Independent Complaints Mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about the misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.  Heal Zimbabwe notes that if such acts of aggression continue unabated, they threaten peace, social cohesion and cast doubt on the eligibility of the state to protect its own citizens.

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.

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