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Violence casts shadow over 2023 polls

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ZIMBABWEANS are increasingly vulnerable to political violence as the country draws nearer to the 2023 general elections which have now become “a nightmare” and an “assurance of violence” that could hinder development and progress, ZimRights says in a new report.

The report, titled Zimbabwe on the Brink: Living in Fragile Peace, comes ahead of next year’s crucial general elections.

There are seven key findings in the report: “First, is the confirmation that we are living in fragile peace, bags packed and ready to run. “While political activists find themselves at the highest risk of physical attacks, politically motivated arrests, everyone is vulnerable as political tension increases. Everyone is then caught up as elections also bring structural violence.

“Resources that are supposed to provide essential services are diverted towards election programmes, including political campaigning. Businesses that operate in politically sensitive sectors risk shutting down, being asked to slash prices and the context becomes unfavourable.” The second finding is that elections in Zimbabwe have become a nightmare.

“They come with the assurance of violence but no development. Unemployed youths are deployed to terrorise communities and harass NGOs deemed to be interfering with the political objectives of the elites,” the report says.

“Our peace activists say each time an election date is announced, fear grips the communities. This is not how things must be. Elections must bring joy to citizens that they now have an opportunity again to have their say in how the country is run. But this is not the situation. “In Zimbabwe it brings fear because violence is assured. Elections mean violence, communities say, because the outcome is predetermined while the process is polarising and destructive to social values.” The fourth finding is the state of polarisation.

“Our politics is now an art of war. What political party you support determines if you are going to have access to food and participate in the economy, among other things.” The human rights organisation says political activists are more prone to physical attacks.

“This state of war is the main reason citizens are withdrawing from public life and women are no longer interested in participating in politics. It has become a game of thuggery. Without the nerve to violate other people’s rights, you can’t participate in our politics.”

 The report is an annual product of the Zim[1]Rights’ Right to Peace Campaign, which seeks to empower communities to demand and claim peace as a right.

The report comes after the abduction and grisly murder of Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Moreblessing Ali in Nyatsime near Chitungwiza. Ali was allegedly killed by a notorious Zanu PF activist, Pius Jamba.

Her death sparked violent exchanges between Zanu PF and CCC, stoking fears of a bloody poll, come 2023.

 ZimRights also highlights the shrinking of the democratic space using the Private Organisations Bill that seeks to shut down all non-governmental organisations which advocate democracy. —STAFF WRITER.

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