Women yearn for violence-free polls

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Zimbabwean women long for free and fair elections without violence so that they can participate fully in the country’s politics, research has revealed.

According to a report titled Zimbabwe Women and their Participation in Elections produced in December 2011 by the Research Advocacy Unit (Rau), Zimbabwean women are clear that an end to violence, free and fair elections, and democracy would bring peace to the country.

“With the clear prospects of elections in 2013, and remotely in 2012, women have deep concerns about the nature of these future elections, and have proposed a clear set of steps that should be taken in order to ensure valid elections, and the full participation of women,” the report said.

As part of its resolution at its National People’s Conference’s in Bulawayo last December, Zanu PF emphasised elections should be held this year, with or without a new constitution.

Rau’s report says the proposed conditions revolve around reforms in six keys areas and provide one of the more comprehensive proposals forwarded by the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe to negotiators in the ongoing power-sharing talks.

The demands include that the State must ensure full security of women and girls during election periods and an end to impunity.

Women called on parties to commit themselves to non-violent campaigning and to desist from hate speech in accordance with the Global Political Agreement.

They also want the mainstreaming of non-violence education in all awareness raising and voter education campaigns and the State to guarantee and safeguard freedom of movement, expression and assembly.

Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC formed an inclusive government in 2009 after President Robert Mugabe won a controversial 2008 presidential run-off election.