via Youths train for peace ahead of 2018 elections | The Zimbabwean 9 July 2014 by Nelson Sibanda
Peace workshops are being held around the country to promote tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections.
Edington Mugova: NGOs have a big role to play ahead of 2018 elections as there is no peace in Zimbabwe
Since 2000 Zimbabwe’s elections have been increasingly marred by violence and injustice. Edington Mugova, national coordinator of Zimbabwe Reveal for Generations Trust (ZRGT), said there was no peace in Zimbabwe, hence the effort by his organisation to prepare the ground for free and fair elections.
“There is a lot to be done in the country before further elections are held. Zimbabwe’s politics is too polarised for a free and fair ballot,” said Mugova, pointing out that people had no freedom of choice or expression.
As its name would suggest, ZRGT exposes social, political and economic ills besetting the country. By 2018, Mugova said, people would be able to express themselves freely without fear.
The trust is educating communities about how to vote for God-fearing leadership that fights corruption, allows free and fair elections, promotes honesty, unquestionable integrity and non-violence, among other commendable attributes.
The political situation, Mugova noted, was further complicated by the abuse and manipulation of churches by political parties. He said the peace initiative would include depoliticising the church.
“The majority of voters complains that they were coerced into voting for candidates against their will, as fear engulfed the election season,” said Mugova, calling on political parties to desist from coerced politics.
ZRGT has taken its campaign to urban centres in Harare as well as some remote parts of the country. Focus group discussions are currently underway in Highfields, Harare.
The Trust’s activities are not without challenges. Mugova said they had been accused by some Zanu (PF) followers and state security agents of furthering a political agenda.
In Harare East in the run up to 2013, harmonised elections, some of the members were briefly detained by some Zanu (PF) youths who accused them for campaigning for the opposition.
This was because peace initiatives were regarded as being MDC. The Trust was registered last year as a Christian NGO. It is recognised by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and is invited to participate in some electoral processes.
Ahead of the last elections the Trust conducted voter education exercises across the country and contributed observers to the electoral process. Besides these activities, it also provides voluntary services such as pothole filing, refuse collection and other clean-up activities.
As community service, the organisation recently donated food and clothing to Bako Redonhodzo Old People’s Home and Chinyaradzo Children’s Home.
Zimbabwe has hundreds of registered NGOs focused on various activities beneficial to targeted communities. Cephas Zinhumwe, chief executive officer with the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations said: “NGOs have a critical role to play in complementing government developmental activities and general improvement of society.”