VICTIMS of political violence are demanding that this year’s elections be monitored by regional and international officials to avoid a repeat of the 2008 bloody elections.
BY OUR STAFF
More than 200 victims of political violence who recently gathered in Zaka, Masvingo, said they still suffered psychologically and physically from the brutality they encountered at the hands of Zanu PF and State security agents.
The meeting was convened by Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT), an organisation that fosters social integration and tolerance among communities.
After the meeting, the victims came up with recommendations, demands and expectations for the next elections.
“All political parties should be allowed to campaign freely without being intimidated or harassed,” the victims said as part of their recommendations.
“All survivors of any form of political violence should be given full access to medical facilities as a matter of urgency.”
The district of Zaka witnessed some of the worst cases of political violence during the 2008 elections.
A number of MDC-T supporters were petrol-bombed and killed during the orgy of violence, largely perpetrated by soldiers and Zanu PF militia.
The victims also recommended that those campaigning for either a “Yes” or “No” vote during the constitutional referendum should be allowed to do so peacefully without victimisation.
The victims said the police and army should not be allowed to interfere with the election process.
Senior security chefs in the army, police and Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) have openly supported Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe.
“Survivors of political violence should not be coerced into supporting a certain political party like what happened in the June 2008 election run-off,” they said.
“Regional and international monitors and observers should be in the country six months before and six months after the election period, in order to reduce cases of violence.”
The victims also recommended that those who had their livestock confiscated during the 2008 political violence be compensated by the parties that were responsible, before the next elections.
The survivors also demanded that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should be led by a new secretariat.
“ZEC should make sure there are no delays in announcing election results like what happened in 2008,” they recommended.
“People who are differently-abled should be assisted by a person of their choice in the voting booth and there should be no other election official close by, including any member of the police.”
The survivors said civil society organisations should be allowed to attend political rallies so they record all forms of hate speech, record people who threatened and harassed other people for political reasons.
They also recommended the barring of traditional leaders from openly supporting any political party.
“Civil society organisations should set up district centres in order to monitor cases of political violence and should be ready to swiftly rescue victims of political violence in case there is an outbreak of violence,” they said.
However, in the past few
weeks, the police have been raiding civic organisations accusing them of interferring with the country’s electoral processes.
It was recommended that youth officers under the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment should be stopped from harassing the electorate or being made poll officials, as they had openly displayed partisan tendencies.
The victims also wanted all those who committed acts of political violence in 2008 prosecuted before the next elections, due later this year.
The MDC-T claims that 200 of its supporters were killed by Zanu PF militia and state security agents during the last elections.
“All those who perpetrated political violence during the previous elections should openly ask for forgiveness as well as restitute the people they offended,” they recommended.
“Supporters of different political parties should heed their principals’ call for non-violent campaigns and should stop intimidating other perceived enemies.”
HZT CAMPAIGNS FOR VIOLENCE-FREE ELECTIONS
The Heal Zimbabwe Trust said a demand for peace would soon be submitted to the government as a way of pressuring them to guarantee violence-free elections.
The trust is running a campaign dubbed “Matthew 5 verse 9: Blessed are the Peacemakers” aimed at promoting a culture of peace and tolerance as the country heads for elections.
The campaign targets communities in some of the hot spots districts which recorded the highest cases of political violence during the 2008 elections.