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.

Heal Zimbabwe expresses grave concern over President of the Chiefs Council, Fortune Charumbira utterances during a traditional leaders’ meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 13 January 2018 in Gweru. In his address, Chief Charumbira openly declared allegiance to ZANU PF. “We work with Government and the ruling ZANU PF,” he said. “I know people say this should not be said but that is the truth. We are ZANU PF”, he said.

 This is not the first time Chief Charumbira has publicly declared allegiance to ZANU PF. In October 2017, in Bulawayo he openly declared his allegiance to the then President, Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF in clear contradiction of the Constitution. He even went further and promised that Traditional leaders were going to campaign for ZANU PF ahead of the 2018 elections.

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that such utterances are not only unconstitutional but compromise the independent role played by Traditional leaders in the discharge of their constitutional duties such as mediating and resolving disputes within their communities. Such sentiments also violate Section 282 of the constitution that forbid Traditional leaders from actively participating in partisan politics or further the interest of any political party. Added to this, Section 7 of the Traditional Leaders Act stipulate that a Chief can be suspended by the responsible Ministry of Local Government for misconduct which involve participating in partisan politics or further the interests of any political party.

 Heal Zimbabwe fully appreciates that traditional leaders if left to discharge their duties independently, can be effective mediators and adjudicators in their communities who can spearhead positive traditional forms of conflict resolution and intervention on behalf of victims of injustice. In light of this, meddling in politics by Traditional leaders greatly compromises this important role that help build peaceful communities and social cohesion within communities.

 Heal Zimbabwe calls for the realignment of the traditional Leaders Act to the Constitution. The constitution clearly stipulates in Chapter 15 section 281 (2) that: “Traditional leaders must not–(a) be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics; (b) act in a partisan manner; (c) further the interests of any political party or cause; or (d) violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.”

 The organization further calls for the setting up of the Integrity and Ethics Committee as espoused in section 287 of the Constitution. An Act of Parliament must be put in place which provide for the establishment, membership and procedures of an Integrity and Ethics Committee of Chiefs to exercise the following functions:

  1. a)To develop and enforce integrity and ethical conduct on the part of traditional leaders.
  2. b)To resolve disputes between traditional leaders.
  3. c)To deal with complaints against traditional leaders.

 HZT further appeals to Traditional leaders to respect the constitution and reassure citizens that they are non-partisan and shall perform their duties and responsibilities in a professional and non-partisan manner that allows all citizens regardless of political affiliation equal access to resources and guaranteed non-discrimination on partisan basis.

 

 

Heal Zimbabwe expresses concern over utterances attributed to newly appointed ZANU PF national political commissar, Retired General Engelbert Rugeje. In his address on the 11th of January 2018, Rugeje warned people who had gathered at Mawungwa Business centre in Gutu to be “mindful of the violence unleashed onto the country after ZANU PF lost the 2008 general elections”. He also highlighted that people must always be aware and remember “2008” as the nation prepares for the 2018 general elections.

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that given that atrocities committed in 2008 are yet to be addressed by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), threatening people using the 2008 violence is not only criminal but irresponsible. Following Rugeje’s sentiments, the organization has recorded numerous cases of intimidation from Gutu West wards 29,33,24 and 08 of community members by ZANU PF activists who are misinforming people that they have the backing of the army and will not hesitate to perpetrate violence on people who will vote for opposition parties.

 It is Heal Zimbabwe’s expectation that violence and intimidation should be vices of the past given that from the time President Emmerson Mnangagwa came into power, his message to the nation has been pregnant with calls for peace and unity. Heal Zimbabwe expected Rugeje in his capacity as ZANU PF national commissar to preach a message of unity and peace in order to actualize the President’s call.

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that as long as past electoral violent episodes such as the 2008 violence remain unaddressed, that culture of impunity and retribution will continue to thwart efforts towards healing and reconciliation. The NPRC, a commission charged with developing mechanisms for early detection of conflicts must without delay initiate robust programmes that seek to prevent conflicts and to promote peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The NPRC must also set up an early warning and early response system in partnership with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and churches for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes, and to take appropriate preventive measures. This will ensure that the 2018 elections are conducted in a peaceful and violent-free environment.

Heal Zimbabwe expresses grave concern over the increase in cases of politically motivated violence. Cases of violence are being recorded in both urban and rural areas and are both intra and inter party involving mainly MDC T and ZANU PF supporters.

 On 10 January 2018, ZANU PF members, in Zaka East ward 31, Obert Sunamisai, Doubt Chitokwani, Forgive Chitokwane and Kumbirai Chitokwane assaulted MDC-T member Amos Kumire accusing him of supporting MDC-T party. The incident took place after Sunamisai had summoned Kumire intending to give him fertilizer at his homestead. Upon arrival, Sunamisai then started accusing Kumire of supporting MDC-T and organizing unsanctioned meetings in the ward. A dispute ensued between the two leading into an altercation. When Kumire tried to walk away, Sunamisai grabbed him and started assaulting him. Within moments, Sunamisai was joined by fellow ZANU PF members (Doubt Chitokwani, Forgive Chitokwane, Kumbirai) who in turn started assaulting Kumire who sustained serious injuries. The matter has been reported at Jerera police station but no arrests made so far.

 The incident in Zaka is one among many cases of political violence being recorded countrywide. On 26 December 2017, two ZANU PF youth led by ZANU PF ward chairperson for ward 10, Marondera, Obadiah Chisango heavily assaulted four MDC-T youth at Mahusekwa Business centre in Marondera West ward 10. The ZANU PF youth accused the MDC-T youth of being “sell outs” and organizing unsanctioned meetings in the ward. On 02 January 2018, deadly clashes erupted near the MDC-T party headquarters in Harare between MDC-T youths and cellphone traders from Ximex complex.

 On 02 January 2018 again, intra-party violence broke out in Epworth among ZANU PF supporters. The members accused each other of parceling out land along factional lines. The violence left two minor children severely burnt after the house belonging to Kudakwashe Damson was petrol bombed.

 Heal Zimbabwe notes that such demonstration of political intolerance is not only regrettable and unfortunate but have potential of compromising prospects for peace ahead of the 2018 elections if not addressed. Heal Zimbabwe implores political parties to reign in on errant supporters who perpetrate violence. Heal Zimbabwe also calls upon political parties in Zimbabwe to respect and enforce the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates, as it paves the way for a smooth electoral process that is devoid of violence. The Code’s purpose is to promote conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections and a climate of tolerance. The police must also be swift in apprehending people implicated in violent activities. In pursuit of his clarion call on the need for peaceful elections, President Emmerson Mnangagwa must do everything possible to ensure that the call on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections is strictly adhered to and followed religiously.

 Added to this, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), charged with developing mechanisms for early detection of conflicts must without fail initiate robust programmes that seek to prevent conflicts and to promote peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The NPRC must also set up an early warning system in partnership with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and churches for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes, and to take appropriate preventive measures.

Heal Zimbabwe applauds President Mnangagwa for signing into law the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Act on 05 January 2018. We welcome the move to operationalize the NPRC which was long overdue since the adoption of the constitution in 2013. Heal Zimbabwe has been on record calling on Government to enact an enabling legislation that operationalizes the NPRC. HZT also takes pride in the fact that the enactment of the Act into law comes at a time the organization has aggressively advocated for the full operationalization of the Commission with the latest initiative being the statement sent on 02 January 2018 imploring the President to sign the NPRC Bill 2017 to ensure the Independent Commission fulfils its constitutional mandate of promoting post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation.

 From its formative stages, Heal Zimbabwe has campaigned and advocated aggressively for the establishment of an Independent Commission in the form of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) by initiating an array of public awareness and advocacy initiatives. Over the years, the organization raised awareness on the importance of operationalizing the Independent Commission using various initiatives that include collaborative neutral platforms, NPRC information kiosks, clean up and door to door campaigns, public meetings, training workshops, Youths Sports for Peace, Community interface dialogues and memorialization projects among others. These activities helped citizens to become engaged and pro-active in calling for the full operationalization of the NPRC.

 Added to this in 2011, Heal Zimbabwe facilitated for survivors of political violence to petition the then Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) to initiate an inclusive healing and reconciliation process. In the subsequent years that followed, Heal Zimbabwe then conducted several Provincial Survivors Summits under its memorialization programme to afford survivors of political violence to add their voice to the discourse on national healing and reconciliation.

 In 2016 and 2017, HZT successfully mobilized citizens to add their voice to the NPRC draft bill during Parliamentary hearings. It is at these hearings that citizens rejected both bills on the basis that they ignored key reconciliation issues. For example, both draft bills were not clear on issues of compensation for victims of political violence. The Bills also failed to clearly highlight how the NPRC would deal with key reconciliation issues such as Operation Murambatsvina and Gukurahundi among other issues. In the same years, the organization also compiled a baseline report on the nature and format the healing and reconciliation process should take. Various stakeholders were engaged in coming up with the report. Heal Zimbabwe believes in a bottom- up approach to healing and reconciliation, a process that is inclusive of people from every level of society. The Unity Accord signed between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU in 1987 is testament to the fact that an elitist reconciliation peace deal cannot provide long lasting and wholesome solutions to reconciliation. The emotive Gukurahundi issue, even today, continues to dominate debates 31 years after the Unity Accord was signed.

 Heal Zimbabwe; however, notes that while the Act incorporated some amendments raised during the public hearings across the country, there remains serious provisions in the Act which were not repealed to incorporate the public concerns. For example, Section 10 of the Act empowers the Minister of national security to block an investigation by issuing a certificate blocking disclosure of evidence and documentation that he/she may deem to be prejudicial to the defense, external relations, internal security or economic interests of the State. Citizens rejected this provision during the public hearings. (HZT shall release a detailed analysis of the Act vis a vis expectations of victims.)

 In light of the enactment of the NPRC Act, Heal Zimbabwe implores the NPRC to:

  1. Ensure a people centered bottom- up Peace, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation process brought through an all stakeholders’ consultation process.
  2. The NPRC must carry out robust programmes that seek to prevent conflicts and to promote peace before, during and after the 2018 elections.
  3. The NPRC must set up an early warning system in partnership with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and churches for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes, and to take appropriate preventive measures.
  4. Facilitate Community specific models for truth recovery.
  5. Assure the security of witnesses during the public hearings.
  6. Craft, recommend and implement policies and legislation which will facilitate institutional reform, restorative justice, truth recovery and truth-telling and establishment of community and national memorials.
  7. Ensure and facilitate the documentation and sharing of multiple narratives of Zimbabwe’s history.
  8. Facilitate psychosocial support to victims of violence.

 

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