ZIMBABWE Peace Project (ZPP) national director Jestina Mukoko said traditional leaders were letting the nation down due to their involvement in politics as the country moves towards the elections.
BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA/PHYLLIS MBANJE
Speaking to the media during a workshop on elections, Mukoko said the refusal by president of Chief’s Council Fortune Charumbira to publicly apologise as ordered by the courts was a sign that the traditional leaders were influencing the election process.
“I was in Nyanga recently, a lot of people that I spoke to are afraid of the role of the traditional leaders. What has happened in courts regarding Chief Charumbira and him failing to respect the court ruling, for me that demonstrates impunity. They actually know that nothing will happen to them. Up to this day, he has not retracted. The other traditional leaders will do likewise.
“People are afraid and this is evident on the ground. Even though cases of violence are slightly lower in comparison, there are a lot of issues at play. The role of traditional leaders has been magnified and this is being used as a tool of intimidation,” she said.
Recently, while addressing party supporters in Mutoko, President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged Zanu PF aspiring party candidates to work hand-in-hand with traditional leaders if they wanted to win the forthcoming elections.
Mukoko, a victim of the 2008 political violence, said this election was more peaceful as compared to the previous polls.
“The changed attitude towards violence by the ruling party, cannot be ignored. The President has really tried to hammer home the issue of peace and for us as the ZPP, comparing figures from the previous elections, we have had the benefit of hindsight in terms of the information we have got from past elections.
“But the figures from our monthly reports, show that in the last two months there has been a decrease in intra-party violence and it does not show that we are going into an election which is a positive,” she said.
According to ZPP, female representation in the forthcoming elections was at its lowest this election.
“Participation of women in the political fray has largely been hampered by intimidation from both political parties and community. The representation is too low and this is because women get the worst of it in terms of threats and intimidation.
“Of concern also is the fact that women were being thrust against each other and that has widened the gender disparity that already exists. Women avoid being harassed by staying away,” she said.
Meanwhile, the ZPP report, as of June 15 said the MDC Alliance topped in cases of intra-party violence with 19 reports as compared to Zanu PF’s three. Most of the violence cases were recorded during primary elections.
The workshop was organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism Zimbabwe (CIJZ) and running under the theme Interrogating, spotlighting and documenting politically motivated violence and human rights violations.