Community Consultative Forums: Buhera and Gokwe

HZT held two community consultative meetings in Buhera West, Chipere Village and Kadzimate village, Copperqueen 2 Gokwe North in week ending 28 March. Community members met and discussed on the general political environment in their respective areas 8 months after the July 2013 elections.

From both meetings, there was a general agreement that the environment is still tense and there are high levels of intolerance. The participants highlighted the need for community peace building activities that aim at bringing people together regardless of political affiliation. Some of the activities suggested include community weeding ceremonies (nhimbes), peace soccer tournaments, burial societies, women clubs etc.

The community members also suggested reviving HZT community peace clubs which to them have helped in bringing community members together. HZT promised to work with the villagers in promoting tolerance and co-existence in the 2 areas.

Issues that were brought out from the Gokwe North meeting:

• Representatives of the area i.e. Members of Parliament, Councillors, Senators should meet more with the villagers in order to get first hand information on the challenges bedevilling their communities and proffer solutions.

• Some indicated that Heal Zimbabwe should keep on doing peace building and development work in their areas since the activities are helping in bringing communities together.

• Villagers demanded more information material on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) as a lobby and advocacy tool. They also mentioned that they would want to participate in the committees that will be established by the NPRC.

• Community members outlined that for any meaningful co-existence to be realised, any activities carried out by the organisation should have people of different political and religious backgrounds for it to be as inclusive as possible.

• The villagers complained that traditional leaders are harassing them and forcing them to pay exorbitant fees for political party functions.

• Members present noted that although there was no open violence in the last election, cases of intimidation and harassment were rife. And this has further exacerbated tensions and conflict in the area.

• The community members highlighted that it is key to have women participating in peace building activities since they are always left out in political activities.

• Young people across the political divide explained that they want to engage in sporting activities and therefore they requested the assistance of Heal Zimbabwe in providing them with the required balls and uniforms for the peace sports tournaments.

Issues that came out of the Buhera West Community Consultative Forum:

• The villagers demanded that in the next elections, Regional and International observers should all be allowed to come in on time and also that a peace keeping mission should be in the country 3 months before and 3 months after elections.

• Members of the community also demanded that the Government find a different way of carrying out the special voting exercise as it was not transparent.

• The villagers implored Heal Zimbabwe to start disseminating information material on the need for peaceful elections in order to discourage political violence.

• Community members highlighted that hate speech should be banned.

• They asked what the structure of the NPRC would be like as they also want to participate in the Independent Commission.

• The villagers demanded that the traditional leadership institution should stop being partisan and treat all community members equally.

• The community implored Heal Zimbabwe to provide them with information material on peace, including putting up posters and bill boards on growth points and business centres.

The outcome of the 2 meetings has informed HZT future programming and the Organisation is in the process of coming up with activities that attempt to solve challenges villagers are facing in Buhera and Gokwe and other areas affected by past cases of political violence.

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