BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA THE 2023 polls have emerged as the leading cause of distress among Zimbabweans as political tensions heighten, a survey by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has showed.
ZimRights last Thursday released its 2021 State of Peace Report which shows that politics was the leading factor that could trigger violence in the country.
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The survey was conducted in six provinces and respondents said they expect bloodshed ahead of next year’s polls.
“The leading cause of concern for the participants in the selected areas for the near future is elections in Zimbabwe,” the report read.
“In all six areas, participants said elections give them a lot of worry mainly because they are characterised by violence and intimidation. In addition to the violence that accompanies elections, four of the areas believed that the elections will not reflect the will of the people hence it will be a waste of resources.”
ZimRights said participants said elections presented a nightmare rather than an opportunity for them.
“Many community members are expecting bloodshed ahead of the 2023 elections. 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.”
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Zimbabwe’s polls since 2000 have been disputed and marred by violence, and have also claimed loss of lives of hundreds of civilians. The report predicted increased human rights violations ahead of the 2023 elections.
“The year 2022 will see strengthening of impunity. With elections coming, a lot of money will be set aside for violence and the perpetrators will be protected. This will lead to impunity for human rights violations. With the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Bill in place, many organisations that document violence will have been shut down or intimidated into silence,” the report added.
Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network executive director Andrew Makoni said fear of violence among the public was likely to cause voter apathy in the polls.
“Citizens will be discouraged to go out and vote when there is violence. Political party leaders and the relevant electoral stakeholders should urgently put in place mitigation measures to guarantee violent free- polls. Political parties that will contest in the elections should go into a pre-election pact committing to a non-violent election and free and fair elections to restore public confidence,” Makoni said.
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