CSO calls for peace ahead of primary elections

CIVIC society organisation, Heal Zimbabwe Trust, yesterday called on all political parties to observe peace ahead of this year’s elections amid concern that violence and human rights violations have started occurring in some parts of the country.

BY SILAS NKALA

In a statement yesterday, Heal Zimbabwe urged political parties to allow internal processes to be conducted in a free, fair and democratic manner as they hold primary elections

“As the date for Zanu PF primary elections fast approaches, Heal Zimbabwe has received reports of clashes among Zanu PF supporters. On April 5 in Goromonzi, Zanu PF top leaders, among them Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Petronella Kagonye and businessman and party activist, Energy Mutodi reportedly stormed Zanu PF offices in the district and attempted to take over the process of receiving and vetting CVs for potential candidates,” the trust said.

“This then led to a stand-off, as some party members staged a protest. To date, similar clashes among Zanu PF supporters have been recorded in Mazowe West, Harare South, Epworth and Masvingo. The clashes come hardly a month after the party’s political commissar, Engelbert Rugeje, called on party members to uphold peace and unity during primary elections.”

Heal Zimbabwe said in light of the above, it implored political parties to rein in their supporters who perpetrate violence and come up with punitive measures that help
violence.

“Political parties must also remain guided by the provisions of the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties, which stipulates that no political party or any of its members or supporters, and no candidate or any of his or her supporters, may use violence, or threaten violence or incite or encourage the use of violence, against anyone on account of his or her political opinions or membership or support of a political party or participation in the election, intimidate, or incite or encourage the intimidation, of anyone on account of his or her political opinions or membership or support of a political party; act in a way that may provoke violence or intimidation, use violence or threats or illegal pressure to force voter to refrain from voting or to vote for a candidate or political party against his or her will and force a voter to reveal the identity of the candidate voted for or take reprisals against a person because of the way in which he or she has voted or is believed to have voted,” the watchdog said.

Heal Zimbabwe further called on all political parties to take a leading role in campaigning for peace and tolerance ahead of the polls.

The trust said it would continue to advocate for peaceful elections through its national peace campaign dubbed 13 Million Voices for Peace.
“The organisation’s trained human rights monitors shall be on high alert monitoring and reporting any human rights violations,” the statement read.

Previous polls have been marred by political violence pitting Zanu PF against the main opposition party MDC-T, leading to homes being burnt down, and supporters maimed or killed as political activists clashed.

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