Survivors of rural violence set election conditions

Survivors of political violence gather in Zaka

12 February 2013 – SW Radio Africa –

The 2013 National Elections in Zimbabwe should be monitored by the International and Regional community just like what happened in the 1980 elections when Zimbabwe gained its Independence…. Mr Zanga airing his contribution during a public interface meeting organised by HZT in Zaka.

Survivors of all forms of political violence during the public interface meeting in Zaka

Hundreds of survivors of political violence gathered in ward 13, Zaka on the 10th of February where they took time to reflect on the psychological, physical and social injuries they have suffered in the past years. They also took the opportunity through Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) facilitation to deliberate on their minimum demands and expectations for elections which are scheduled to take place this year. HZT is running a campaign dubbed, Mathew 5vs 9 : “Blessed are the Peacemakers” aimed at promoting a culture of peace and tolerance as the country heads for watershed elections. The campaign targets communities in some of the hot spots districts in Zimbabwe which recorded highest cases of political violence during the 2008 political violence namely Zaka, Gokwe, Buhera and Muzarabani.

The program was attended by traditional leaders, church leaders, political leaders in the area, and 210 victims of political violence. The survivors of political violence took turns to air their views on minimum conditions for the holding of violent free, fair and transparent elections. All the demands from the four targeted areas will be collated and submitted to three principals of the Inclusive Governement in a niche to continue pressuring them to guarantee that the heinous activities associated with elections in Zimbabwe will never again be repeated. The minimum conditions are expectations of victims they want implemented first for them to freely participate in the scheduled elections.

During the meeting, Elder Jaricha of the Apostolic Faith Mission preached on the need for survivors of violence to take it in their hearts to forgive those who perpetrated violence against them. He also urged the participants to remain steadfast as they soldier on for the realisation of their goals which made them victims in the first place.

Heal Zimbabwe staff then took the participants through the political developments in the country, the endorsement of the draft constitution by Parliament and what it means to the survivors of political violence. The HZT team also gave those present insight into the provisions in the new constitution of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and its significance on peace building efforts in the country. He also urged survivors of violence and torture to actively participate in the forthcoming referendum and harmonised elections as it is their right to participate in democratic processes. Delegates were encouraged to exercise tolerance during the forthcoming elections in order to achieve free, fair and peaceful elections.

The delegates then gave testimonies of the different forms of political violence they have encountered over the years. By speaking publicly and openly about the human rights violations they have encountered over the years, it enabled them to go through a therapeutic transformation by sharing their past encounters with others who have faced more or less victimisation. They then took turns to air their minimum conditions for free, fair and peaceful elections. The survivors of political violence vowed non participation in the upcoming elections if their demands are not met.

Summary of minimum conditions for free and fair elections from the view of survivors of political violence:

• All political parties should be allowed to campaign freely without being intimidated of harassed.
• All survivors of any form of political violence should be given full access to medical facilities as a matter of urgency.
• All those campaigning for either a yes/no vote during the constitutional referendum should be allowed to do so peacefully. No one should be victimised for either voting yes/no in the referendum.
• The 2013 national elections in Zimbabwe should be monitored by the International and Regional community just like what happened in the 1980 elections when Zimbabwe gained its Independence.
• Members of the police and the army should not be allowed to interfere with the election process in any way, if there is need for security it should be provided by the UN standby force.
• Survivors of political violence should not be coerced into supporting a certain political party like what happened in the June 2008 election run off.
• Regional and International monitors and observers should be in the country 6 months before and 6 months after the election period in order to reduce cases of violence on the electorate.
• Government should reparate all survivors of political violence who lost their sources of livelihoods due to political violence before any call for elections.
• All those who had their livestock confisticated during the 2008 political violence should be compensated by the political parties responsible before any call for elections.
• The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should be led by a new secretariat not the one which was in charge during the 2008 chaos.
• ZEC should make sure there are no delays in announcing election results like what happened in 2008.
• People who are differently abled should be assisted by a person of their choice in the voting booth and there should be no other election official close by including any member of the police.
• Civil society organisations should attend political rallies and record all forms of hate speech promulgated at rallies as people are being threatened and harassed at such political gatherings.
• Traditional leaders should desist from openly supporting any political party and should be barred from forcing people to attend political rallies.
• Civil society organisations should set up district centres in order to monitor cases of political violence and should be ready to swiftly rescue victims of political violence in case there is an outbreak of violence.
• Youth officers under the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment should desist from harassing communities. These youth officers should not be allowed to become election officials during the forthcoming elections as they have openly displayed that they are partisan.
• All perpetrators of political violence should be arrested before the next round of elections and justice should prevail on all those who perpetrated criminal activities during the past elections.
• All those who perpetrated political violence during the previous elections should openly ask for forgiveness as well as restitute the people they offended.
• Supporters of different political parties should heed their Principals’ call for non violent campaigns and should stop intimidating other perceived enemies.
“The cry for Peace will be a cry in the wilderness, so long as the spirit of nonviolence does not dominate millions of men and women” Mahatma Gandhi.

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