Peace committees should promote dialogue and prevent political violence as the country is slowly creeping into an election mode, a government minister has said.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) in 2019 set up thematic peace committees around the country at provincial and district levels as part of its efforts to promote peace and foster cohesion. The peace committees were tasked to promote conflict management, resolution and transformation in communities, among other functions.
Speaking during a provincial peace committee meeting on preventative dialogue engagements held in Gweru on Wednesday, Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima said peace committees should be able to deal with conflicts associated with elections in Zimbabwe.
“As you are all aware, the country is geared up for the election period and it is my hope that peace committees will take the necessary preventive measures to facilitate local-level dialogue on how to deal with the electoral disputes and sometimes violence, uncertainties and contestations that may be associated with our country`s elections. I am however confident that peacebuilders here are going to be equal to the daunting task to foster healing, reconciliation, peacebuilding, conflict prevention as well as identifying and dealing with potential triggers of conflict in this province,” said Minister Mavima.
Zimbabwe will be holding its next general elections in 2023. The country is also set to hold by-elections for parliamentary and local council seats that were left vacant following the deaths and recalls of holders.
Minister Mavima also said the government fully supports the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to execute its mandate.
He said: “The government of Zimbabwe continues to support the commission (NPRC) with resources, human material, to ensure that peacebuilding, conflict resolution, healing and reconciliation is achieved. Hopefully, this will edge and take the commission closer to the people.”
The minister said the maintenance of peace and harmony was a fundamental enabler to achieving the government`s Vision 2030 targets of becoming an upper-middle-income economy by the year.
The country has already witnessed some isolated political violence, mainly where opposition MDC Alliance has accused ZANU PF of attempting to assassinate its leader, Nelson Chamisa. The ruling party has however refuted the allegations calling the alleged attacks on the opposition leader`s convoy stage management.
Elections in Zimbabwe since 1980 have not been devoid of violence. In 2018, at least 6 people were left dead and 35 injured in the post-election violence involving clashes between security services and protesters that rocked parts of the country, prompting a commission of inquiry into the killings.
In 2008, post-election violence left more than 3 000 internally displaced in cities and towns throughout the country, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.