Youth in Epworth have vowed to uphold peace and shun violence ahead of the 2018 elections. This came out during a peace concert conducted in Epworth by Heal Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) on 20 January 2018. The main act for the peace concert was renowned Dancehall artist, Winky D.
The objective of the peace concert was to popularize the HZT national peace campaign: 13 Million Voices for Peace and afford citizens an opportunity to pledge to uphold peace before, during and after the 2018 elections. The peace concert was also aimed at mobilizing community members to register to vote ahead of the 2018 elections. The peace concert was attended by an estimated number of 8 000 people.
As part of rallying citizens to pledge for peace ahead of the 2018 elections, Heal Zimbabwe set up a peace pledge desk that was adjacent to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) mobile registration centre where youth would pledge for peace soon after registering to vote. As part of pledging for peace, youth would fill in their personal details and append signatures to peace pledge forms indicating that they had publicly agreed to preach peace and shun political violence ahead of the elections. Heal Zimbabwe will use the peace pledge forms in its advocacy and follow up initiatives to campaign for peaceful elections. A total of 4 230 people pledged to uphold peace.
Added to this, Heal Zimbabwe’s photo booth allowed for people who had pledged for peace to have photo sessions where each community member would reaffirm their commitment to pledge for peace by posing for a photo with placards that denounce political violence. Further to this, Heal Zimbabwe will use the peace pledges to hold community members accountable in the event that they renege on their commitment to uphold peace.
ZEC officials also took time to explain the BVR process in detail and applauded the organization for such an initiative that seeks to ensure that the 2018 elections are peaceful. A total of 725 people managed to register on the day. Heal Zimbabwe and its partner organizations also encouraged citizens to register and vote in peace as the 2018 elections loom.
Winky D also added his voice on the need for youth to uphold peace by encouraging youths to be peaceful during voter registration and ahead of the 2018 elections. He went on further to register to vote and encouraged youths who had not yet registered to follow suit.
The peace concert in Epworth come at a time when Heal Zimbabwe has launched a nationwide peace campaign by conducting peace concerts as a way of encouraging citizens to uphold and pledge for peace ahead of the 2018 elections. In the past, the organization conducted a series of Youth Sports for Peace tournaments across the country so as to encourage youths to shun political violence and embrace peace. The youth tournaments were conducted under Heal Zimbabwe’s National Peace Campaign dubbed #13MilVoices4Peace, an initiative that aims to rally Zimbabweans to uphold peace ahead of the 2018 election.