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Local communities calls for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections.

Heal Zimbabwe conducted a series of collaborative platforms in the form of nhimbes targeted at raising public awareness on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. From 25 -30 April 2017, Heal Zimbabwe through its 18 community peace clubs in Gutu West (6 peace clubs), Mutoko (3 peace clubs), Murehwa (3 peace clubs) and Buhera West (6 peace clubs) mobilized community members to participate in nhimbes that included harvesting of crops, clean up campaigns and road gulley filling exercises. The nhimbes were attended by a total of 18 Village heads, 5 Headmen, 3 Councillors and 100 Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members. A total of 900 community members attended the programme. The nhimbes were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign which seeks to raise public awareness on the need for peaceful participation in the upcoming 2018 elections.

Some of the issues that came out of the nhimbes include increase in cases of harassment and intimidation of people by political activists.  Women present highlighted that there is limited participation of women in electoral processes as a result of intimidation largely perpetuated by Ward chairpersons, village heads and elected officials such as councillors. Some of the participants also raised concerns around the proposed adoption of a BVR system by ZEC for the 2018 elections. They indicated that there is alot of misinformation in the communities with some ward chairpersons and Traditional leaders intimidating people by stating that the biological features captured by the BVR system shall be used to find out who would have voted for which political party. In order to demystify the myth around the BVR process, there is need for a robust voter education program by ZEC and civil society organisations. The peace clubs also promised to carry out peer to peer voter education if they are equipped with adequate information.

A Peace Club is a ward based community group of people who come together to promote peaceful coexistence in their communities. Peace club membership is drawn from diverse local community members that include traditional leaders, church leaders, women, youth, business people, people with disabilities and village health workers.