Zipra veterans are in the process of engaging traditional leaders and chiefs in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces seeking to find solutions to politically-motivated violence during elections.
The war veterans, led by provincial coordinator Retired Lieutenant Colonel Walter Khumalo, say they want to avoid a repeat of past violence.
Areas so far visited include those under Chiefs Ngqoya, Siphoso and Mswigana in Matabeleland North while in Midlands visits have been made to Chiefs Malisa, Sigodo and Gambiza.
“The community leaders are so enthusiastic about the programme and are keen to see the attainment of lasting peace in the area,” said Khumalo.
“The war vete
rans in all the areas that we visited have shown commitment to peaceful co-existence with their rural folk and have promised to shun violence in the next election that has been touted for 2011.”
The war veterans have launched a community healing programme in Matabeleland South, North, Midlands and some parts of Mashonaland.
“These meetings have set the stage for more dialogue with the communities,” Zipra chairperson Ray Ncube said. “We have moved into Midlands so that our programme can influence events in all the neighbouring provinces.”
He said 32 coordinators from the eight Midlands districts had so far been trained so that they could prepare the ground for upcoming interventions.
Ncube said the programme would also be taken into urban centres with the aim of forming peace committees in residential areas.
“Our citizens should realise that violence breeds violence and we cannot let it be part of our culture this time around.
“We need peace committees to start sensitising our urbanites now so that they can take pre-emptive measures to weed out any form of political violence in our cities,” Ncube said.
Traditionally chiefs and war veterans have been used by Zanu PF to perpetrate violence against their subjects to coerce the electorate into voting for President Robert Mugabe.