Zimbabwe Heading for Peaceful 2013 Elections?
In Zimbabwe post 2008 March election violence claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands. A precedent had been set in Kenya, following the December 27, 2007 elections where post election violence had claimed about 1500 lives and displaced more than 300 00 people. Both scenarios led to governments of national unity. Elections are now inevitable in 2013, posing the question on whether Zimbabwe is heading for peaceful elections. As much as it is difficult to tell now if the impending elections will be free from violence, the Students Solidarity Trust is rallying its constituency towards a peaceful election through setting up public early warning systems, involving communities at risk and facilitating public education and awareness on election violence. SST has tried and tested systems, structures and personnel ever ready for election processes, setting up early warning systems and early responses and social safety nets.
SST contends that for Zimbabwe to have peaceful elections, both during run up and in the post election period, election violence needs to be addressed on the level at which it is carried out through developing trust at the grass root level that would weather possible calls for violence coming from politicians or from any other sources for that matter. SST is rolling out activities aimed at developing trust and confidence among and between contestants and voters, a phenomenon that has characterized the peaceful holding of elections by the American election system as witnessed also in the recently concluded November Election. In that election the losing candidate conceded defeat and congratulated the winning candidate – President Obama. SST is building relationships among students and youths across the political divide, abused by politicians in the past by using them to perpetrate violence, which relationships are aimed at preventing violence and creating citizens who refuse to take part in violence and encourage others to do similarly.
These efforts by the Student Solidarity Trust are its contributions to the obtaining environment where calls for non-violence are heard and accepted by the politicians and the general public. President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai of late are on record for calling for peaceful elections. To further consolidate such calls the SST activities shall continue to deliberately connect youths and students from different regions and enhance inter-regional activities. This is in light of the tendency by some politicians to thrive on politicization of regionalism and ethnicity to seek undue electoral advantage. The SST constituency is on guard to document and expose election related corruption, ineffective electoral processes and institutions, weak judiciary and unaccountable police personnel, impunity and criminal gangs and militias taking advantage of electioneering.
The organization will be promoting its constituency’s election related rights including freedom to form, join and affiliate to organizations and or political parties, freedom of expression of preference to a party or candidate, right to vote, right to contest elections, right by contestants to compete for support or votes and right to a free and fair election.
PROVIDING DEMAND DRIVEN SOLIDARITY TO THE STUDENTS COMMUNITY AND BEYOND
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe