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  • Efforts that guarantee peace should precede any call for elections
    Heal Zimbabwe Trust
    May 13, 2013

    The country is awash with calls for national elections in Zimbabwe. Different election dates have been proposed with different justifications by the political leaders. The issue of the election date has become topical to the extent that it has become an outstanding issue to the Inclusive Government which is nearing its extinction in 47 days to come. The expiry of the GPA is a clear indication that elections are imminent and inevitable. HZT is not worried about when exactly elections should be held but about the minimum conditions for free, fair and most importantly, peaceful elections. For HZT, the Political leaders should first make efforts towards guaranteeing peaceful elections before any call for elections. Cognisant of the fact that elections have been synonymous with political violence, political leaders should make tireless efforts towards the promotion of peaceful elections with a stern guarantee to the electorate that there will not be a repeat of the 2008 madness which saw hundreds of people losing their lives to political violence.

    To HZT, the call for elections by political parties without destabilising the machinery of political violence is like putting the cart before the horse. The political leaders should be reminded that it was the outbreak of incidents of political violence in 2008 that caused a stir at national, regional and international level forcing the African Union to intervene through SADC ultimately leading to the formation of the GPA. It then boggles the minds of many as to why political parties are outwitting each other on calling for election dates when little has been done on the ground to guarantee the electorate that there will not be a repeat of incidents similar to the 2008 political violence. The political leaders should therefore concentrate on leveling the playing field instead of the current political bickering on when elections should be held. To HZT, as much as the election date might be important, what is urgent and of paramount importance are combined energies towards guaranteeing the security of voters before, during and after elections.

    The structures set up on the onset of the Inclusive Government to deal with past violations have done little in preparing for future peaceful elections. The Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration and the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) which are left with less than two months to end their lifespan have failed dismally to meet their mandates of dealing with cases of human rights violations and ensuring the country records as minimum cases of political violence as possible. Cases of past human rights violations have not been dealt with, perpetrators of political violence are still roaming free yet political leaders are preparing for another round of elections without addressing past violations. HZT reiterates that the Government's efforts towards creating a peaceful environment should be clearly guided by the seven pillars of transitional justice namely, prosecution, truth telling, lustration/vetting, institutional reform, rehabilitation, compensation and restoration. Efforts should be seen on the ground that the Government is working towards resolving past violations in a niche to promote a ˜Never Again” attitude to political violence. To date, less than 8% of the recorded cases of the 2008 political violence have been dealt with by the courts of law.

    Before any call for elections is made, political leaders should make attempts towards rebuilding community relations, promoting peace and unity within communities which have been affected by years of political strife. In line with the resolutions made by victims of political violence at the National Survivors Summit held in Harare in 2010, there is need for security sector alignment in order to give confidence to the electorate that the violence of yesteryear especially the 2008 violence, will not recur. Since the inception of the Inclusive Government, the country has witnessed relative peace in communities but Heal Zimbabwe continues to record scattered incidences of harassments and in particular, threats. Between January 2013 to date alone, Heal Zimbabwe has recorded countrywide, 7 cases of assault, 21 cases of intimidation, 1 case of abduction, 20 cases of harassment and 1 case of murder and all these cases are politically motivated violations. It is clear that the violations will increase when the election date is announced.

    Speaking on the need for an even playing ground before the elections, Heal Zimbabwe spokesperson, Bishop Magaya highlighted that, “....Zimbabwe is actually being plunged back to the 2008 election chaos where communities were sent into disarray as a result of an outbreak of political violence. Put simply, people are not going to have a free and fair election in an environment where the Police Commissioner acts in a partisan manner. If elections were to be held without reforms, all progressive parties should boycott the election...".

    It is the organisation's expectation that political parties cease to be selfish and make efforts towards guaranteeing free, fair and peaceful elections bearing in mind the need to respect the sanctity of life. HZT therefore, reminds all progressive Zimbabweans to desist from spearheading political violence as they ought to realise that no political party or leader is worth to die for.

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