By Adelaide Kuudzerema and Elia Ntali
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called on stakeholders to ensure a peaceful environment ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
In a statement to mark the international Day of Peace, ZESN said it believes targeted peace building efforts will be a milestone in violence prevention ahead of 2023.
“As we celebrate the International Day of Peace, running under this year’s theme, “End racism. Build peace,” the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) implores all stakeholders to ensure a peaceful environment ahead of the 2023 Harmonized elections as part of efforts to enhance electoral integrity.As Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating this special day, ZESN strongly believes targeted peacebuilding efforts will go a long way in preventing election violence in Zimbabwe during the 2023 pre, polling and post-election periods.
“Zimbabwe is a signatory to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among others which call for the promotion of peace during elections; therefore elections are an important aspect of every society. Peace ensures that voters are allowed to exercise their constitutional and democratic rights to cast votes and elect candidates of choice without fear or intimidation. Free and fair elections can only be achieved when peace is apparent,” ZESN said
The Network reiterates its calls on the media as the sword arm of democracy to serve as a conduit for public debates; peace and reconciliation through promoting dialogue between contesting candidates and not to proliferate hate speech. CSOs must continue with their watchdog role to ensure tenets of democracy and adherence to human rights are maintained and upheld.
The Network called for the strengthening of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), Civic Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Education Institutions, Political Parties and the Media as they are critical stakeholders to fostering a culture of peace and tolerance in the society.
“ZESN urges the ZEC, CSOs, FBOs, Media and all institutions supporting democracy to provide citizens with objective civic and voter education focusing on peace messaging and youth engagement as this will go a long way in mitigating against conflict that leads to political and electoral violence at all stages of the electoral cycle.”
The International Day of Peace or Peace Day is observed around the World annually on 21 September, established in 1981 by a unanimous United Nations resolution.