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Rural community efforts towards nation building
Heal Zimbabwe Trust
April 15, 2011

Heal Zimbabwe in collaboration with traditional leaders in Zaka carried 40 traditional weeding ceremonies (nhimbes) in the month of March and April 2011 with a niche to revisit and restrengthen community relations and cultures which had been eroded by years of political strife. Hundreds of people of various political persuasions participated in the rituals which were held in batches of ten per week. The activities were spearheaded by traditional Chiefs, sub chiefs and village heads. The basis for the activities is to redefine traditional leaders roles and responsibilities as a source of unifying the community divided by political violence.

Villagers as part of coming up with continuous peace initiatives strategies formed peace clubs per each VIDCO or WADCO - village/ward development committees which comprise of 50 members consisting of two village heads, four church leaders, one sub-chief, one policeman, one traditional healer, ten women, ten youths, five elderly and eleven men from the entire political divide. This came after discussions were made during the nhimbes that most cases of political violence had an involvement of local people hence the need to come up with structures that guard against any external influence on the local people specifically youth who are well known for being used by political parties to further their own interests.

The peace clubs' main objective is to mediate in community conflicts and prevent the exploitation of local community conflicts by politicians during times of election contestations. Various social activities will be carried out in the peace clubs for example soccer tournaments, burial societies, small income generating projects, all as strategies to rebuild community relations. Heal Zimbabwe hopes that if communities come together frequently on social platforms that are apolitical it becomes difficult for them to turn against each other during election periods. The programme needs to be spread to other areas affected by political violence especially as we enter the harvest and the winter farming season. Peace club members will also discuss ways and strategies they can implore to uphold peace and stability in their respective communities and immediate responses they can implore in the event of outbreak of political violence.

Traditional leaders will capitalize on mini breaks that are done during the nhimbe to try and rebuild torn relations and encourage the culture of peace, tolerance and stability. The chiefs will reemphasize the need to respect the sanctity of life irregardliness of pressure from political leaders. It is during these meetings that people with diverging opinions mix and mingle as a build up to rebuilding a culture of tolerance and respect of one's views and opinions.

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