(week ending 24 July 2016)
Heal Zimbabwe Trust has been carrying out community peace building and conflict transformation initiatives that seek to build peace and foster social cohesion in various communities across Zimbabwe. Below is a Peace Builders Diary that showcases the activities that were carried out by HZT community structures between the 18th -24th of July 2016.
Introduction to HZT Community peace building structures:
- Community Peace Clubs- Collaborative, Tolerance and Development Platforms (Nhimbes)
A nhimbe is a neutral platform where people from diverse social-economic and political groupings come together to work as a community for the common good of their community or village. A nhimbe follows the traditional practice of bringing together people to work as a family under the direction of a Traditional leader. These nhimbes seek to promote a culture of working together, and unity among community members. The process contributes towards improved community cohesion and reduced conflicts and violence.
Under a nhimbe, a peace club which is a community group of people who come together to promote peaceful social relations tolerance and non- violent activities in the communities, mobilizes community members to jointly carry out community development and peace building tasks. The peace clubs who have a composition of 20 members per each club were set up by communities working with HZT. A peace club is a platform that promotes peaceful living and aims to rebuild social relations within communities. It also mobilizes communities that have been in the past divided by violence and conflicts to engage in social activities that promote tolerance and unity of purpose. The nhimbe is also a conflict mitigation tool that has become popular in HZT programming. Peace club members are drawn from different social and political backgrounds. Heal Zimbabwe has trained a total of 1 252 peace club members drawn from 67 ward peace clubs located in areas the organisation is currently operating in. Some of the districts are Buhera, Muzarabani, Gokwe, Tsholotsho, Chipinge, Mutasa, Mazoe, Mutoko, Bikita, Zaka and Gutu. The peace club trainings covered issues such as conflict identification, analysis and stakeholder mapping exercises which equipped peace club with mediation skills and conflict resolution techniques.
During the trainings, peace clubs identified conflict mapping exercises where they identified existing conflicts within their communities. They then came up with action plans where they identified activities that they would implement to mitigate the conflicts. One of the activities identified to deal with most conflicts include nhimbes and sports for peace tournaments.
Zaka Ward 13
Shingirirai peace club identified that in their community, there was no unity among community members owing to the fact that most community members felt that they were being discriminated in receiving food aid. To help address this, the peace club then identified that since most Government sponsored food aid usually comes through the Councillor, the peace club invited the Councillor of the ward, Sebastian Musundire to a peace awareness raising nhimbe where they did gulley filling of a dust road that links the local shopping centre to Tovani Primary school. The Councillor attended the nhimbe and he welcomed the move by the peace club to take responsibility and acknowledged that a platform such as a nhimbe help build better relations among villagers. In addition, the Councillor promised to take up the matter of unfair food distribution and launch an investigation as to why most people were being discriminated against receiving the food aid.
Bikita Ward 22
Machenjedza peace club carried out an awareness raising nhimbe which sought to raise awareness on peace and citizens responsibilities in ward 22. During a peace club training held earlier in the month, the peace club noted that the shortage of water was fueling most conflicts in the area. Most boreholes in the area had dried up. The peace club then decided to organize a nhimbe where they were helping fence the local borehole and creating a water way. The nhimbe was also attended by 8 Village heads. At the nhimbe, Village head Bhembenene welcomed the initiative by the peace club to help bring unity among community members and acknowledged that such a platform help build social cohesion and help better relations amongst community members.
Chipinge Ward 16
Maronga peace club which is located near Kondo Research centre held a community public awareness nhimbe on the need to promote peace and tolerance in the area. The area has suffered long standing land disputes between community members and senior ZANU PF officials. The peace club saw the need to carry out a nhimbe through erecting humps adjacent to Maronga Primary school, an area which is prone to accidents where 3 children were hit by kombis in the past. The peace club invited the Councillor of the ward, Refias Sithole to the nhimbe. Two transport operators also participated in the nhimbe. Councillor Sithole thanked the peace club for taking up such an initiative which helped better relations amongst people.
Mazowe ward 9
Sungano peace club successfully mediated a conflict that involved a domestic conflict amongst members of the Gwenzi family where relations had broken down. After engaging Village heads Chidhawu and Chitaguda who helped mediate in the conflict, the Village heads then advised the peace club to carry out a nhimbe and specifically target the Gwenzi family. In the same week, the peace club also held a dialogue meeting with a village head in the area who in the past was resisting peace building activities in the area. During the meeting, the peace club managed to convince the village head using engagement skills acquired during trainings and at the end, the traditional leader requested to join the peace club. As a celebratory gesture, a nhimbe was held in the area. The nhimbe involved repairing of a footbridge that links Musarara village and Majome village. At the nhimbe, members from Gwenzi family and the traditional leader thanked Sungano peace club firstly for mitigating the conflict and then organizing a nhimbe which helped rebuild relations.
Mbire Ward 12
Batanai peace club carried out a peace awareness raising nhimbe where they were sweeping and slashing grass at a residence of an elderly woman in the ward. The nhimbe was a way of publicizing the work being done by the peace club in the area. When the peace club carried out a conflict mapping exercise earlier in the month, they noted that in order to deal with future conflicts, there was need for the peace club to also engage Traditional leaders in the area who play a key role in resolving conflicts. The peace club specifically targeted their Village head, Musandauka. At the nhimbe, Village head Musandauka managed to attend and welcomed the initiative by the peace club. He also thanked the peace club for ensuring that even the elderly in the area are assisted. The village head also acknowledged that the nhimbe offered a platform to build social cohesion and rebuild relations among community members. Village head Musandauka promised to join the peace club and participate in conflict transformation activities.
Gutu Ward 31
Tabudirira peace club organized a gulley filling nhimbe where they repaired a road that links Mukundi Township and Chagwiza. The purpose of the nhimbe was to raise awareness on the need to maintain and promote peace in the area. The nhimbe was attended by Village heads Chikwetu, Chigumbu, Mabhiza, Madzimure, Gusha and Murwira. All the Village heads acknowledged the important role being played by the peace club in building peace and restoring relations among community members. They also promised to participate fully in future activities of the peace club.
Women Safe Space for Reconciliation Trainings
Heal Zimbabwe also spreads the message of peace through community structures known as Women safe space for Reconciliation. A women Safe space for Reconciliation is an already existing neutral platform, of not less than 20 women working on various community initiatives. The platforms could be emerging from women’s clubs, burial society, church clubs or any group of women who are motivated to participate in peace building and conflict prevention. HZT identified such groups and trained the women to mainstream peace building in their day to day activities. The platform presents an opportunity for women to come together and discuss pertinent issues affecting them as women. In the groups, they also address conflict issues affecting young women and children in their communities. The objectives of a women safe space include creating a safe space for women to share their experiences of conflict and violence and help create a forum where women can learn from the experiences of other women and develop relationships with each other. The women also come up with strategies of promoting peace and mitigating violence in their areas.
From the 19th- 22nd of July 2016, HZT held trainings with Women Safe Spaces for Reconciliation. The trainings were aimed at capacitating women to be able to map and analyze conflicts that affect women’s participation in democratic processes and then come up with action plans that seek to address these conflicts. Part of the training involved identifying the different types of conflicts and then carrying out stakeholder mapping which help them identify stakeholders who can then help address the conflicts.
Some of the Women safe space for Reconciliation groups trained include Rujeko Women Safe Space (Buhera), Mazowe Ward 9 (Bridge of Hope) and Ward 12 (Garden of Eden) and Murehwa Ward 10 Nyamasanga Women Safe Space.
Organizational Capacity Building for Community Based Organizations (CBOs)
Heal Zimbabwe Trust carried out Organizational Capacity Building trainings for 9 Community Based Organizations (CBOs) that it works with. The CBOs trained operate in Buhera, Mutoko, Gutu, Zaka, Mbire, Mazowe, Mutasa and Gokwe. The CBOs underwent an Organizational Capacity Assessment exercise that identified capacity needs. From the 19th -23rd of July 2016, HZT managed to capacitate a total of 9 CBOs. The training focused on among other things, financial management, Administrative practices and procedure as well as project management. The OCA process followed a series of trainings held with the same groups in 2015 on conflict mitigation and resolution and also mainstreaming peace building. The CBO trainings are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s initiatives of encouraging local community structures to mainstream peace building in their everyday work.
Sports for Peace Tournaments
Sporting activities have played a unifying role through their ability to bring community members across the socio- political divide. HZT through its Peace Clubs, has been carrying out sports for peace tournaments that bring youth and other community members together. This helps mend broken relations as the teams are selected across the political divide to play in a neutral setting. The sports show that competition can be done in a peaceful manner without having to induce violence in order to become the victor. The sports for peace tournaments are some of the activities being implemented by community peace clubs to build peace. Sports for peace tournaments were held in Makoni and Buhera. An average of 300 people attended each sports for peace tournament. The tournament in Makoni was held at Chiundu Primary while the one in Buhera was held at Buhera District office grounds. The tournament in Buhera was also attended by Chief Makumbe. Before kickoff, all teams made pledges for peace where they vow to continue spreading the message of peace in their communities.