In a statement, to mark the International Day of Peace the NGO Forum said that the pre- and post-election periods were marked by systematic episodes of violence, which have increased tensions and suspicion between citizens and the state.
The NGO Forum also welcomed the preliminary reports issued by international observer groups, which echoed the concerns raised by the forum and local observer groups.
The reports found that the pre-election environment was restricted, with limitations on the freedom of assembly and expression, lawfare towards civil society organizations (CSOs) and political opponents, and covert violence in the form of voter intimidation at the behest of the Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ).
“There is consensus around common findings including: a restricted pre-election political environment characterized by limitations to the freedom of assembly and expression, Lawfare towards civil society organizations (CSOs) and political opponents, Covert violence in the form of voter intimidation at the behest of the Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ).”
“Arbitrary arrests of members of CSOs, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and political opponents, biased state media coverage of the campaign period, Voter suppression on polling day in urban areas and comprised, captured and weakened judiciary just to mention a few,” said NGO forum.
The forum said that covert violence has since manifested into direct violence in the post-election phase, in the form of assaults, torture, police brutality, and unwarranted use of force, arson, harassment, intimidation, abduction, arbitrary arrests, and attacks against polling agents.
“These developments are in contradiction with the tenets of the International Day of Peace to eradicate all forms of violence, including covert violence which was rife during the 2023 harmonized election cycle.”
The organisation demanded the government to immediately shut down the operations of FAZ as it continues to discharge a reign of terror in communities.