The Zimbabwe Victims of Organised Violence Trust (ZIVOVT) has begun the process of engaging political parties to establish peace committees ahead of the imminent 2011 elections, a senior official has said.
Percy Mcijo of ZIVOVT said: “There is serious fear among citizens as political parties start talking about elections. This is because of what transpired in the 2008 elections, where many people were displaced, some killed while others were brutalised over politically related squabbles.
“In efforts to curb violence we have decided to engage political parties in the country to take part in the initiatives that will see peace prevails during future elections.”
Mcijo said people across the country were still tormented because of what happened in previous elections and to ensure people will participate in future elections without fear of retribution, all parties should be involved in the peace building programme.
“We recently introduced this programme and as of now we have not yet formed the committees, but this is our programme which we believe will be implemented before the next elections. We have approached all political parties and they have shown interest in the process,” said Mcijo.
He said the committees would be tasked with building peace among the people regardless of their political affiliation. Mcijo said belonging to different political parties did not mean the supporters were enemies.
“Political party members must allow their neighbours to belong to other parties, but could still cooperate as a community or nation builders. In the peace building initiative, we are trying to create a safe environment ahead of elections,” said Mcijo. He said the violent nature of elections infringed on people’s freedoms of choice and violates democracy.
Although other political parties such as the two MDCs, Zapu and other small parties were clear on the issue of violence-free elections, Mcijo said it was pleasing to note that even Zanu PF appreciated ZIVOVT’s efforts in building peace through the committees.
He said Zanu PF had pledged its commitment to the cause.
Mcijo said the programme would start next year when the committees were expected to be in put in place.
Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo said his party supported any peace initiative.
“We rally behind any measures that will bring peace and healing to people who were once affected by political violence. You remember that Zapu is the first and main political party which is a victim of political violence. If ZIVOVT starts looking at violence from 1980s, we will be part of the process. But if they adopt the MDC-T stance that violence was seriously perpetrated since year 2000 to date only, we cannot support that and we call the process a non-starter,” said Moyo.
MDC–M Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu said: “We will support any peace initiative but as a province, the organisation has not yet approached us. If we are approached we will surely take part in the process.”
Efforts to get comment from MDC-T Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, Felix Mafa Sibanda, and Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairman Isaac Dakamela were fruitless.
Over 200 MDC-T supporters were reportedly killed during the 2008 presidential run-off elections while over 20 000 PF-Zapu supporters were killed during the Gukurahundi genocide in the 1980s.