Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in local communities across the country’s provinces have expressed concern over the lack of swift response by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to deal with incidences of targeted violence in the run up to the March 2022 by elections.
This came out during a virtual dialogue conducted by Heal Zimbabwe with 300 HRDs drawn from the country’s ten provinces. The dialogue meeting sought to evaluate the state of human rights in local communities and share strategies on effective voter mobilization ahead of the 2023 plebiscite.
Participants bemoaned the lack of swift response by Independent commissions when cases of political violence increased in the run up to the March election.” Commissions such as the NPRC and ZHRC have failed to fulfill their constitutional mandates. Even when Mboneni Ncube Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) activist was killed by ZANU PF youths in Kwekwe, these Commissions did not even act. If anything, the NPRC played down the case and failed to even issue a statement condemning such heinous act”, added one participant. Participants also noted that voter mobilisation by political parties has intensified in rural communities and that in some cases, community members are forced to attend political meetings. “Food aid mostly from the Department of Social Welfare continues to be used as a weapon against opposition party supporters. Village heads are denying aid to individuals who fail to attend political gatherings especially those called for by the ruling party, ZANU PF”, added another participant.
As part of resolutions, the HRDs resolved to continue documenting and reporting cases of human rights violations to the responsible institutions and also continue mediating conflicts in a bid to build social cohesion in local communities. The dialogue meeting also resolved that there was need for HRDs to intensify voter mobilisation initiatives ahead of the 2023 elections.
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. Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.
Source: Heal Zimbabwe