Churches roll out anti-violence campaign

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BY SHARON BUWERIMWE
CHURCH leaders across the country have started rolling out peace-building initiatives targeting political parties in a bid to ensure that a non-violent environment prevails ahead of the March 26 by-elections and 2023 polls.

The country usually degenerates into chaos and bloodshed during elections. There are also growing fears that the forthcoming by-elections might be marred by violence.

Two weeks ago, there were pockets of inter-party violence in Kwekwe and Chitungwiza targeting Chamisa’s Citizens for Coalition Change (CCC) supporters.

Zimbabwe Christian Alliance executive director Useni Sibanda told NewsDay that they were already engaging political parties to campaign in a peaceful manner.

“Our aim is to work with political parties and to train some of their cadres to do peaceful campaigns.  We need to be able to tolerate each other as Zimbabweans. Our Constitution clearly states that every person is entitled to their political opinion,” Sibanda said.

Zimbabwe Council of Churches programmes team leader Tinashe Gumbo said: “We are currently implementing a campaign called #IPray, I vote, which has been running since 2018. The campaign is guiding us in terms of our intervention and conduct. We committed ourselves as churches to make sure that we raise awareness around issues of peaceful elections,” Gumbo said.

Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe president Never Muparutsa said they were running a campaign called #prayregistervote for citizens to pray for peaceful elections.

“Structured prayers are on-going in this regard,” Muparutsa said.

Since independence, Zimbabwean elections have been characterised by political violence, the worst being the 2008 elections, where opposition supporters were beaten, kidnapped, and killed.

Analysts have since raised concern over possible violent polls citing last year’s incidents where opposition leader Nelson Chamisa was attacked by Zanu PF supporters during his meet-the-people interface meetings in the rural areas.

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