by Watmore Makokoba
Civil society organisations have started ground work as they prepare for the Chiwundura National Assembly by-election in the Midlands Province on July 15, 2017.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) in Gweru on Thursday trained human rights volunteers to monitor the pre-election period for human rights compliance.
The Chiwundura seat fell vacant after the death of former Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) Member of Parliament Kizito Chivamba in April this year.
However, the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC–T) has been boycotting all by-elections since 2013 to make the case for electoral reforms.
A pre-election assessment tool was administered to the 121 trainees as part of the monitoring framework.
ZimRights Director Okay Machisa explained to the participants the role of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the components of the human rights monitoring tool.
“The monitoring tool will assess issues such as political intimidation, the 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, ” said Machisa.
This initiative comes at a time when civil society organisations are setting their focus on the forthcoming general elections in 2018 and are using the training to pilot a monitoring framework for safeguarding human rights during elections.