“Overnight political meetings, fuelling the spread of Covid 19 in Gutu”

Community members from Gutu have attributed the spike in Covid 19 cases to political meetings that are being conducted during the night in Gutu. At these meetings, no social distancing or wearing of masks is observed. This was revealed during a virtual dialogue conducted by a community that works with Heal Zimbabwe in Gutu on 5 July 2021.

Community members reported that more recently, the ZANU PF local leadership in ward 34 organized a meeting at Hwiru Primary school that was attended by more than 50 people during the night.”In this ward night meetings have become common place.ZANU PF has been conducting overnight meetings at Hwiru primary school where Covid 19 regulations are being ignored”, said one participant. It was also revealed that besides numerous police reports, nothing has been done. Other issues that came out during the dialogue include cases of human rights abuse against citizens where they are being forced to join ZANU PF local structures.

Participants noted that the 5 million voter mobilization by the ruling party has destabilized already fragile communities. School children who are in form 4 and 6 are also being forced to acquire Identity Card documents and forced to register to vote. This campaign is being led by Traditional leaders, Councillors and ZANU PF structures. As part of way forwad, the dialogue meeting resolved that there was need to continue advocating for the decentralization of Independent Commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to decentralize to wards for easy access. These Commissions have a Constitutional obligation to support and entrench human rights and democracy.

The meetings by Heal Zimbabwe are part of efforts to empower local communities to help safeguard against human rights abuse and also help build peaceful communities. Heal Zimbabwe utilizes various strategies to address conflicts in local communities. One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities. The platforms also equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and human rights. Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe

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