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We are not ready for elections- Chirozva community

Villagers from Chirozva community in Buhera Central have indicated that they are not ready for elections as cases of intimidation; violence and selective application of the law are still rampant in the area. Speaking during a community outreach meeting held by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on the 17th of March 2012, participants highlighted that the inclusive government has so far failed to create a conducive environment which fosters the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

'Isu hatisati tagadzirira. Hapana chinobatika chati chaitwa nehurumende (We are not yet prepared. There is nothing tangible that has been done by the inclusive government),' said one participants. It was further highlighted that war veterans continue playing a toxic role in the community where they are allegedly intimidating villagers. According to one participant, on the 16th of March, war veterans summoned MDC supporters and threatened them with death if they do not defect to Zanu Pf.   It was also alleged that another war veteran pulled out a pistol during a Zanu Pf meeting held at a place called Kandenga in the area to intimidate people.

In addition to the behavior of the war veterans, participants noted the continued existence of two military run torture bases in Ward 22 Chirozva District which are allegedly manned by three soldiers referred to as Morgan Mzilikazi, Mutanto and Magirazi. These bases, according to the villagers were set up in 2008 at the height of politically motivated violence in the country.

The following issues also emerged from the meeting:

·                 1. Traditional leaders continue to support ZANU PF and to threaten opponents of the political party. Participants reported that chiefs are awarding Zanu Pf supporters only community loans which are supposed to benefit all the villagers

·                 2. Teachers at schools including Chirozva High School are used as 'spies' by Zanu Pf

·                 3. There is selective application of the law resulting in villagers failing to find redress when aggrieved by ZANU PF supporters and functionaries

·                 4. The inclusive government should guarantee free political activity ahead of any electoral process

·                 5. There is need for women to be protected from violence and intimidation as they were forced to attend political meetings.

·                 6. Perpetrators of the 2008 violence must be arrested and they must also disclose the whereabouts of those abducted during the period

·                 7. The police and state intelligence continue to support Zanu Pf and intimidate villagers

·                 8. There must be a new constitution in place before any elections and that the new constitution should guarantee people's freedoms.

·                 9. There is need for civil society organizations to always visit communities and keep them informed on developments taking place in the country as they usually lag behind because they can only access ZTV.

 

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition emphasized the need for communities to work together in fighting against violence and intimidation. Participants were also encouraged to register as voters and to exercise their right to self- determination by voting in future elections.

The meeting was part of a series of meetings being held by The Coalition to update communities on the progress of the constitution making process and the position of civil society regarding the holding of elections in the country and to obtain views from communities on the holding of elections. During the meeting, The Coalition emphasized the civil society position that free and fair elections can only be held after critical reforms are carried out including institutional, media and electoral reforms.

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