LOCAL peace advocacy group, Heal Zimbabwe Trust have taken their national peace campaign, As One, to Manicaland ahead of the harmonised elections.
Heal Zimbabwe launched the campaign in Zaka in April 2023, to emphasize the importance of peace and tolerance in rural communities which are usually hotspots of violence in election periods.
Speaking to the members and non members of the organisation’s peace club, at Tandi Garden in ward 12, Makoni, Heal Zimbabwe staff Trisha Dewa told meeting attendants that elections come and go but the community remains hence the need to stay away from violence.
“Peace club members should champion peace in this time of elections. Because, it is during this time that violence and conflict arises so we should be ensuring that people are aware of the need for peace and tolerance before we get to election day,”
“We need to tolerate and accept different political choices of people of this community. There should be no hostility because another person does not agree with your political choices,” added Dewa.
The countryside is a perennial hotspot of violence perpetrated by mainly ruling party thugs who lack tolerance for divergent political views. This has made participation of women and in politics limited. People are frogmarched to support ruling party candidates, thereby infringing on the rights to association and assembly.
During the 26 March 2022 by-elections a lot of opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change gatherings were disrupted by suspected Zanu PF supporters. In the Midlands, controversial cleric Abton Mashonganyika was recorded advocating the death of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and his family.
Heal Zimbabwe held the meeting at one of its project sites that members use to reduce conflict and poverty by having community members can plant crops for subsistence and in due course go commercial.
This, they say, helps reduce conflict as conflicts usually arise when there is few resources in the home so the initiated this to ensure that peace begins at home.
Headman of the area, applauded the garden and encouraged members to work on it until they commercialized.
“If we work hard enough people from Rusape market will be expecting produce from our garden. So we can take our children to school and even buy basics such as sugar in our households,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dewa encouraged meeting attendants who came from accross the political divide to register to vote so that they can enjoy their rights to belong to a party and choose leaders of their choice in the upcoming elections.
“As peace club members it is our duty to encourage people to register to vote, and encourage them to vote peacefully,” she said.
Zec is stll conducting votefr registration until 2 days after the proclamation of the election date, which is yet to be done.