“We will mobilize women to Register and Vote”
Women who are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s Community Action Accountability Teams (CAATs) in Gutu and Bikita have vowed to mobilize women in their communities to register to vote ahead of the 2018 elections. This came out during a Training of trainers workshop for 4 CAATs in Bikita ward 32&12 and Gutu ward 5&6 on 10 and 11 April 2017. A CAAT is a group of 25 women established by Heal Zimbabwe drawn from diverse political and socio-economic backgrounds working together to build peace, social cohesion and demand accountability from duty bearers (MPs, Councillors, Senators and traditional leaders). In 2016, the organisation worked with 100 CAAT members from 4 groups and this year the groups have expanded to 8 adding 100 more women, bringing the total to 200.
The objectives of the training workshops were to capacitate CAATs to mainstream peace building and gender in their day to day activities. The trainings also imparted skills on topics such as stakeholder mapping, which is a process that allows CAATs to identify and analyse different stakeholders within their communities who can help mitigate conflicts. The trainings also equipped participants with skills on conflict mediation, resolution, mapping and stakeholder engagement which are needed when resolving conflicts. Besides being equipped with skills in conflict mediation, the trainings also offered an opportunity for participants to discuss the roles and functions of Independent Commissions that support democracy such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), Gender Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).
Issues that came out during the trainings were that previously, because of past political violence episodes, most women in Bikita and Gutu were not keen to participate in democratic processes such as voter registration and voting processes. To help address this, CAAT members promised to mobilize women at the lowest level of their communities to actively participate in elections both as voters and candidates.
In the past, the CAATs have managed to mobilize fellow women in their communities to participate in Council budget consultation meetings. They have also been instrumental in monitoring and recording human rights violations in their areas and facilitating for victims of human rights violations to report their cases to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).The CAATs also mobilized 31 women to attend an NPRC bill hearing meeting in Masvingo on 13 March 2017.
In September 2016, CAAT members also carried out a series of door to door campaigns targeting women and youths. These campaigns managed to raise awareness on the need for social accountability and educating community members on their constitutional rights. The campaigns have witnessed an increase in the number of women who are now effectively participating in decision making processes that include budget consultations and food aid registration processes. In October 2016, CAATs held 20 Community interface meetings in Zaka, Bikita and Gutu that offered an opportunity for community members to engage with duty bearers on critical human rights issues. Some of the issues discussed during the interface meetings include partisan distribution of food aid, shortage of water, unfair selection of Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) beneficiaries which the communities noted fuel conflicts in communities.
Heal Zimbabwe envisions a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe that celebrates diversity in local communities. The organization seeks to facilitate community healing, reconciliation, build peace and social justice through transforming conflicts in local communities.