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‘Zimbabweans live in fragile peace, elections remain a nightmare’

Research has established that many Zimbabweans are living in a state of fragile peace and they do not believe that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has the capacity to ensure free and fair elections in the upcoming 2023 plebiscite.

According to the State of Peace Report Community Peacebuilding Action (Report 2021) released by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) two weeks ago, the state of peace in Zimbabwe has been found to be worrying.

“How we understand peace in our own language and culture determines how we approach peace building and respond to the threats against peace. In this report, over 50% of the community activists acknowledged that they were living in a state of fragile peace which we call negative peace,” read the report.

“They are uncertain of what the future holds. There are no peace fundamentals in the communities to sustain the silence’ they are currently experiencing.”

The research also noted that communities are anticipating that the 2023 elections may be violent with the ruling Zanu-PF party expected to be the biggest perpetrator.

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“There was consensus across all the communities that participated in the report that elections presented a nightmare rather than an opportunity. Many community members are expecting bloodshed ahead of the 2023 election. They attribute the violence to the violent nature of the ruling party.

“In addition to the violence, communities have no confidence in electoral systems’ capacity to deliver democracy. Many are convinced that the election outcome is predetermined because the institutions are captured,” read the report.

It was further reported that the communities highlighted that they live in communities that are highly polarised along political lines.

“This is cutting across all sectors of society. Political alliances determine access to resources and the enjoyment of basic rights. Access to food aid is dependent on political allegiance.

“The communities observed that traditional leaders are many times forced to join politics on the side of the ruling party. As a result, they end up being conflicted and participating in manipulation of food aid and electoral processes.

“This is undermining confidence in the institution of traditional leadership which is supposed to be the sacred custodian of values and culture,” stated the report.

The State of Peace Report is an annual product of ZimRights’ Right to Peace Campaign. The report captures the key peace concerns and issues in the communities where the campaign is being implemented.

“It brings together activists operating in the Right to Peace Action Zone into targeted conversations that help the community understand the state of peace in the areas they live. The campaign is being implemented in Masvingo, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South Provinces.”