By Nkanyiso Ncube
COMMUNITY leaders in Tsholotsho North have stepped up peace building efforts in their local communities as the nation braces for 2018 general elections.
The community last week organised a series of collaborative platforms aimed at raising peace and tolerance ahead of election campaigns period.
In a statement, Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) said the meetings were meant to promote peaceful participation in the impending polls which are believed to be a “do-or-die” for opposition parties in the country.
“From 29 May- 04 June 2017, community peace clubs in Tsholotsho North wards 5, 3, 8 and 1 organized a series of collaborative platforms (Amalima) that were aimed at raising peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. The collaborative neutral platforms were attended by 250 community members, 8 Traditional leaders (7 Village heads and 1 Headman) and 10 Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members.
“The nhimbes were held under the Heal Zimbabwe #15MillionVoicesForPeace National Peace Campaign meant to promote peaceful participation in the 2018 elections,” read part of the statement.
HZT said unemployment was rampant and posed a serious threat to young people who are often used by politicians to engage in violence.
“One of the major issues that came out during the meetings was rampant unemployment especially among youths. Community members noted that this posed a serious threat to the prevalence of peace since in previous elections many youths have been used by some political players to perpetrate human rights violations.
“As a way forward the peace clubs proposed to conduct sports for peace tournaments that will specifically target youths where they can raise awareness on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the plebiscite. The tournaments shall encourage youth to be peace ambassadors, taking an active role in mobilizing communities to shun any form of violence ahead of the elections,” said HZT.
The Tsholotsho peace campaigns come barely a month after Mazowe South legislator Fortune Chasi took to the social media to urge other legislators to be peace ambassadors in their constituencies.
Election periods in Zimbabwe have often been characterised by violence and intimidation and Chasi added that the onus to speak the language of peace was squarely on every Zimbabwean.
Zimbabwe is expected to go for watershed polls in 2018 and preparations are almost taking shape with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announcing the winner of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits.
ZEC has also released the number of voter registration centres that have been allocated for each of the country’s 10 provinces.