Communities get together to mend torn relations……

Its been 6 months since the July 31 elections, rural communities are still recovering from the tension and polarisation that characterised the election campaign period.

HZT received sporadic cases of internal displacements during the election period and most of the victims are yet to relocate back to their villages. The organisation in a niche to rebuild community relations torn by political intolerance, has embarked on an outreach peace campaign that targets community members.

HZT is currently creating platforms for local communities to openly interact on day to day activities while discussing pertinent issues affecting their areas ranging from social issues, economic, political and environmental challenges. The Community Interaction Platform for Peace and Tolerance project started by carrying out community weeding ceremonies (nhimbes) in Bikita and Gutu. The project targets areas that have been previously affected by political violence.

Traditionally, nhimbes have been used as a neutral platform to bring communites together so that they can work in unison. This has helped in rekindling community relations where all issues are discussed, people differ in opinions but resolve their differences peacefully. The nhimbes are usually led by traditional leaders and the process has managed to promote tolerance of divergent ideas between members of the same community.

The concept is carried out in such a way that community leaders agree on a particular social amenity in their community such as the construction of a dip tank or road repairs that require locally available material and expertise. People from across political divides come together and work together on projects that benefit them.

Since the agricultural season is underway, the collaborative work was done in the fields where communities came together and assisted each other in weeding crops. HZT carried out the nhimbes in 5 provinces after the 2008 election violence and the exercise managed to bring communities together after a period of political tension.

On 5- 7 February 2014, HZT was in Bikita District and managed to facilitate 6 nhimbes held in 4 different wards namely ward 13, 19, 21 and 22. The weeding ceremonies were organised by traditional leaders (village heads and headmen) in the area in conjunction with HZT peace club members in the district.

The platforms provided for members of the community regardless of political affiliation, to meet informally and help each other on different developmental projects. Each nhimbe had at least 90+ community members working in each field. Most of the beneficiaries were vulnerable households for example, child headed families, the elderly or people living with disabilities.

Further, 6 more nhimbes were held in Gutu between 12-13 February 2014 in ward 6 and 7. The first nhimbe was held at Chief Chiriga’s homestead in Matoto village ward 7. It was held at the chief's homestead to follow the traditional Zunde Ramambo concept which seeks to assist the underprivileged in the event of a drought or famine occurring in an area.

More than 160 people attended the Zunde Ramambo with the ZANU-PF district chairman Mr Chigwendere, lauding the peace building efforts by HZT and implored the communities to continue with the exercise even in the absence of HZT staff as it brings communities together.

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