CHINHOYI – In a bid to promote tolerance, national healing and curtail outbreaks of politically-motivated violence ahead of general elections set for early next year, the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (Ucaz) has rolled out a pilot project aimed at promoting co-existence among supporters of diverse political persuasions.
Report by Own Correspondent
A senior Ucaz official, Tserai Machinda, recently told NewsDay the initiative was initially targeting seven local authorities, adding the programme would complement similar efforts by the Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation and other civic bodies.
“The project aims to reduce conflicts in all their forms and increase focus by councils on service delivery. Let us distinguish politics from development,” said Machinda, adding the project would not prescribe reparations to victims or retributive justice against perpetrators of the 2008 election violence.
The $520 000 project, running under the theme “Managing Political Diversity and Community Healing”, will be rolled out in Chitungwiza, Shurugwi, Zvishavane, Bindura, Epworth, Karoi and Chinhoyi over the next three years before it is extended to 25 other urban councils.
Contributing to debate over the programme last Friday, Chinhoyi’s Ward 15 councillor Ben Rabi(MDC-T) expressed scepticism the exercise would achieve its goals in his area as earlier efforts by some non-governmental organisations had been thwarted by alleged Zanu PF supporters.
“This project, however well-meaning, would be impossible to implement in my ward because known Zanu PF supporters who killed and raped are walking scot-free, but are fearful thinking they were targeted by such projects.
“How can you tell the community to heal when nothing has been done to bring the perpetrators (of the 2008 election violence) to book? The same culprits threaten to victimise residents who participate in such exercises,” said Rabi, adding it was necessary to revisit the gory 2008 epoch.
Chinhoyi councillors accused Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo of being the biggest stumbling block to political diversity and tolerance in the country. They accused him of administering the Urban Councils and the Traditional Leaders Acts in a partisan manner to prop up Zanu PF, while victimising MDC-T-led councils.