By Portia Sigauke
CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) have started training human rights volunteers that will monitor by-elections for Chiwundura Constituency slated for July 15.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said the human rights volunteers would monitor the pre-election period for human rights compliance within the constituency.
The Chiwundura seat fell vacant after the death of former Zanu-PF legislator Kizito Chivamba in April this year, and four candidates have filed their nomination papers..
The candidates who will be contesting in the election are Takudzwa Guzete–National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Brighton Mudzwiti –Freezim Congress, Brown Ndlovu- Zanu PF and Webster Zulu-Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ).
In a statement the elections watchdogs said they have set their sights for next year’s elections and would use the initial training as a pilot monitoring framework for the 2018 general elections.
“The civil society organisations have also set their sights on the forthcoming general elections in 2018 and are using the training to pilot a monitoring framework for safeguarding human rights during elections. A pre-election assessment tool was administered to the 121 trainees as part of the monitoring framework,” read part of the statement.
ZimRights director Okay Machisa said the human rights volunteers will assess issues such as political intimidation, role of traditional leaders, any forms of politically motivated violence and harassment, misinformation in relation to the voting system, police conduct, and the extent of voter education and freedom of candidates to campaign.
He reaffirmed the civil society organisations commitment to reducing political violence.
“We want to assure Zimbabwe of our determination to reduce intra-party and inter-party violence as well as limit the divisions in communities arising out of election processes. The trainees were taught about the complaints handling and investigations unit and processes of the ZHRC as well as given a detailed brochure from the Commission.”
ERC director Tawanda Chimhini reiterated the importance of citizens having an opportunity to vote.
ZEC has already carried out voter registration and education ahead of the by-election in the constituency.
People from ward 13 have reportedly complained that all of the 68 polling stations to be used in the by-election are located far away from the resettlement area.
Chiwundura Constituency has an estimated 62 765 people.