The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) implores electoral stakeholders to foster peace ahead of the March 26 by-elections and 2023 harmonized elections. The network is deeply concerned about the recent spate of inter-party as well as intra-party violence that occurred which taints the credibility of electoral processes.
The recent violent clashes have a potential to adversely affect the turnout of citizens on the ongoing voter registration exercise as violence impacts negatively on the participation in electoral processes especially of women and people with disabilities. Political and electoral related violence undermines civil and political rights and affects citizens’ right to compete in electoral processes. Also; it erodes trust in democratic processes as well as undermines the quality of democracy thereby, limiting inclusive participation.
Furthermore, acts of violence often lead to voter apathy, especially among women and people with disabilities which in turn defeats the desired 50/50 approach to gender balance in electoral processes and leadership positions.
It is against this background that ZESN urges political parties to create a conducive political environment where all citizens enjoy their fundamental rights without fear.
ZESN calls on political parties to embrace divergent views and promote peace in the country as well as to put in place mechanisms that promote the participation of women in electoral processes.
The Network recommends that perpetrators of violence must be arrested and there is need for a more holistic and expanded legal framework to deal with perpetrators of political and electoral related violence.