On 23 June 2018 Heal Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Election Resource Centre and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) launched the “Go out and Vote campaign” in Epworth. The objective of the campaign is to mobilize citizens to go out and vote on 30 July 2018 and upholding peace and political tolerance. The campaign launch saw several artists including Winky D, Lady Squanda, Jah Signal, Kinnah and Silent Killer performing.
In his welcome remarks, Heal Zimbabwe Executive Director, Rashid Mahiya highlighted that the purpose of the Go out and Vote campaign was to encourage citizens to go out in their numbers on election day and to vote peacefully. “By launching this campaign, we are encouraging citizens to exercise their constitutional rights such as voting and on 30 July 2018, we must all vote in peace”, he said. The campaign is also a follow-on activity to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call for peace during elections which is also in compliance with Section 155 (d) of the constitution that highlights that elections must be free from violence and other electoral malpractices.
The major highlight of the campaign was when all aspiring candidates in Epworth pledged for peace ahead of the 2018 elections. Aspiring candidates who spoke to Heal Zimbabwe welcomed the campaign for peace and highlighted that in the past, Epworth had become a hot bed for political violence. “During electoral periods, political intolerance and violence are the order of the day here in Epworth, but as an aspiring candidate I am very happy that youths are participating in this initiative because in the past, they have been used to perpetrate violence”, said one aspiring candidate. Ordinary citizens particularly youths from various political parties also pledged for peace and vowed to repel forces of political violence as elections draw close.
Heal Zimbabwe and its other partners will also launch a similar campaign in areas such as Masvingo, Bulawayo and Mutare. Further to this, the organization will engage aspiring candidates on the need to campaign aggressively for peace and also hold them accountable if they perpetrate violence before, during and after the 2018 elections. The campaign launch in Epworth come at a time when Heal Zimbabwe and its other partners conducted a peace campaign earlier in the year that was aimed at mobilizing citizens to uphold peace and shun violence ahead of the 2018 elections.