WAR veterans, for long accused of abating President Robert Mugabe’s regime by coercing villagers in pre-election periods, have committed to peace-building ahead of the 2018 polls.
Source: War vets, ZimRights hunt for peace – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 13, 2017
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) at the end of its annual general meeting said it had received solid commitment from the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform (ZLP) to engage communities to gird themselves against political violence.
ZimRights director, Okay Machisa, said the organisations needed to work harder towards attaining peace and human rights in the communities ahead of the general elections next year.
“Our importance to the communities is that we want to see peace. The war we are going to fight is to defend human rights. We need to improve the way we monitor and report on human rights,” Machisa said.
Amid reports that Mugabe’s Zanu PF and apparatchiks in government were politicising food aid and other social safety nets, Machisa said ZimRights would continue to oppose such tendencies.
“We saw during the Hurungwe by-elections suddenly truckloads of maize going there. Next in Norton by-elections truckloads going there…we saw that again in Bikita West. As human rights defenders we cannot just let that happen,” he said.
ZLP director, Wilson Nharingo, said his organisation would engage the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) accused of fomenting violence to build peace in communities.
“ZLP was formed as a response to a wave of violence, lawlessness, [and] anarchy that gripped the country during the land invasions and the elections that were about to take place. These ex-senior commanders sat down, discussed and agreed that what was happening was a negation of the liberation struggle ideals,” Nharingo said.
ZNLWVA spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya in an interview with NewsDay said his organisation was ready to work with other democracy lobby groups to ensure a peaceful poll.
“We took up guns in order to yield peace, but unfortunately in the past 37 years our history has been abused with people who have never had a relationship with the struggle being addressed as comrades.
“The party (Zanu PF) and government have created paramilitary groups to terrorise citizens in the name of war veterans. That should come to an end and we will lobby for some sought of rule to the use of the term comrade especially in political circles,” Mahiya said. “Peace is what my mother wants and the rest of Zimbabwean society would love to take part in elections without coercion.”