Villagers complain of BVR abuse by traditional leaders

Women in Gutu and Zaka districts of Masvingo operating under the name Community Action Accountability Team (CAAT) have engaged leaders in the area to complain over the alleged abuse of the biometric voter registration (BVR) process by some traditional leaders.

BY SILAS NKALA

Human and civil rights watchdog, Heal Zimbabwe Trust in its report yesterday revealed that the women complained at an interface meeting with their traditional leaders.

CAAT, established by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe Trust, has facilitated four community interface meetings with traditional leaders in Gutu and Zaka districts.

Heal Zimbabwe Trust reported that the dialogue sessions came as some traditional leaders were being accused of harassing and intimidating community members over the BVR process.

“The objective of the interface meetings was to create a platform for community members to interface and interact with duty bearers on critical issues affecting the community. Some of the major issues that came out during the interface meeting include partisan conduct of traditional leaders in issuing proof of residence for the BVR process, forced attendance to political gatherings and unfair food aid distribution,” the report read.

The interface meetings were attended by 101 men and 149 women, nine traditional leaders, one councillor, two school development committee members, seven village development committee and three ward development committee members.

“As a way forward, the interface meetings resolved that CAAT, together with the traditional leaders and other opinion leaders, collaborate and carry out public awareness campaigns on the importance of peace, tolerance and social cohesion ahead of the elections. During the public awareness campaigns, Heal Zimbabwe Trust shall also facilitate for organisations working on elections such as Election Resource Centre and Zimbabwe Election Support Network to attend and raise awareness on the BVR process as a contribution towards peaceful and credible elections,” the report said.

“Traditional leaders were also encouraged to acquaint themselves with their constitutional obligations and duties such as not participating in partisan politics or furthering the interests of any political parties, as outlined in section 281 of the Constitution. Members of the CAAT also appealed to community members to approach them with cases of human rights violations so that they can facilitate for them to report the cases to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission for redress.”

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