Political parties must be sincere on the need for peace

Heal Zimbabwe notes the increase in cases of violence among political parties as elections draw closer. On 11 July 2018, one person reportedly died while several others were injured when violence broke out in Chitungwiza after suspected ZANU PF activists assaulted residents accusing them of supporting MDC Alliance President, Nelson Chamisa. Heal Zimbabwe has also recorded several cases of assault and intimidation mostly in Masvingo Province, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West. This is despite the fact that political parties participating in the elections signed a peace pledge on 26 June 2018 where they committed themselves to a peaceful campaign before, during and after elections.

Heal Zimbabwe notes that while this was a progressive step aimed at inculcating a culture of peace and tolerance, the escalation of cases of violence is a betrayal of the historic peace pledge by political parties. Political parties must demonstrate sincerity on the need for peace by reigning in on supporters that perpetrate violence that seek to make the peace pledge of no effect.

The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), the broker of the peace pledge must without delay engage multiple stakeholders such as civil society in a bid to insulate citizens against acts of violence and intimidation ahead of the elections. This can be done by swiftly establishing effective early warning and early response systems that will help detect areas of potential conflicts, disputes and take appropriate action in compliance with section 252 (g) of the constitution. While the designating of trial magistrates to deal with cases of politically motivated violence by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is commendable, the magistrates must swiftly begin prosecuting people implicated in cases of politically motivated violence.

Added to this, there is also need to strengthen multi-party liaison committees right from the ward, district and up to national level. If strengthened, these committees can help minimize cases of violence as they are a form of conflict resolution mechanism among political parties. Further to this, political parties must uphold and adhere to principles set out in the Political Parties code of conduct that criminalizes acts of intimidation and violence.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe