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People with Disabilities Sidelined During Electoral Process: ZPP

Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a local human rights group, has bemoaned the unavailability of a conducive environment and facilities for people with disabilities during the registration process prior to the elections.

In a report released this week, ZPP noted that the issue of inclusion of all citizens in the electoral process was of significant concern in the case of people with disabilities and women.

“In Chipinge only about 50 visually impaired people cast their votes. Not all polling stations were accessible to PWDs and the visually impaired complained about giving up the secrecy of their vote by being assisted to vote by either their elected assistant or at the polling if the assistant was under the age of 18 years,

“While at some polling stations vulnerable groups were attended to earlier than everyone else among them people with albinism but this was not standard in all polling stations,” they said.

However, ZPP was elated that after appeals by PWDs, disability friendly polling booths were introduced.

Meanwhile, a high number of violations were recorded in Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland East and Midlands.

According to the report, Mashonaland Central remains a trouble province for ZANU PF because of unresolved factional disputes pitting Lacoste and G40.

Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands are swing provinces which often determine who wins the election and the competitiveness in the province is a catalyst for conflict and political violence.

ZPP added that cases of intimidation were also high through referencing of past violence which left many villagers traumatized in some areas.

“Perpetrators in their threats used the presidential run off as a situation to be avoided if villagers did not want a repeat of the 2008 violence. Some war veterans were making threats of war if President Emmerson Mnangagwa was defeated,

“Villagers were presented with a scenario where the two choices were either a ZANU PF victory or civil war. Some villagers believed this could happen having seen the military intervene to remove former President Robert Mugabe in 2017,” explained ZPP.

The human rights group urged Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to increase visibility to enable victims who are uncomfortable with police to make reports and more support should be rendered to rural communities to litigate.

 

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