BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
COVID-19 is said to be one of the major causes of a surge in disputes within communities and has also contributed significantly to loss of lives.
This was said yesterday by National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) deputy chairperson Lillian Chigwedere in Harare during a provincial peace committee and preventative dialogue meeting.
Chigwedere said the pandemic influenced stigmatisation and discrimination of communities, resulting in conflicts.
“Over the past two years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has hit the underprivileged and the marginalised the hardest,” Chigwedere said.
“People caught in conflict are especially vulnerable in terms of lack of access to healthcare, socio-political rights as well as livelihood support. As peace committees, it is our role to be observant and intervene whenever possible.
“The pandemic has also been accompanied by a surge in stigma, discrimination, unresolved disputes and hatred which only cost more lives instead of saving them. COVID-19 has made Zimbabweans more aware of the need to come up with measures to address conflicts at local level, hence emphasis on preventative dialogue.”
Chigwedere said the commission was shifting focus towards the upcoming 2023 elections to ensure that peace prevails.
“Currently, there is a shift in focus to the 2023 elections. In order to guarantee non-recurrence of perennial elections-related conflicts, the onus is on you to engage robustly and deliberating in preventative dialogues of all stakeholders to ensure that re-emergence of past experiences is curtailed.”
Speaking on behalf of Harare Metropolitan Affairs minister Oliver Chidawu, Harare provincial development co-ordinator Tafadzwa Muguti urged NPRC to be inclusive in promoting peace prior to the 2023 elections.
“As you are aware, the country is now geared up for the election period and it is my hope that peace committees will take necessary preventative measures to facilitate local level dialogue on how to deal with cynical electoral violence, uncertainties and contestations usually associated with the country’s elections,” he said.
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