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The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of civil society organisations that promotes democratic elections, launched the Vote In Peace campaign on Saturday in Hopley.
The campaign aims to educate the electorate on the importance of fostering peace before, during and after elections as provided for or in line with Constitutional dictates.
ZESN’s Electoral Education and Capacity Building Officer Dudzirai Chiwuta said the campaign was part of the organisation’s efforts to enhance electoral integrity and prevent violence in the 2023 harmonised elections.
“It’s about educating the electorate on the importance of fostering peace before, during and after elections as provided for or in line with Constitutional dictates. Section 155 (1) (a) (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that Elections, which must be held regularly, and referendums must be peaceful, free and fair and must be free from violence and other electoral malpractices. Everyone should be free to engage in electoral processes as electoral workers; voters; observers; media practitioners; candidates; and campaign freely and peacefully,” she said.
The network has been working with various stakeholders such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), faith-based organisations, community-based organisations, education institutions, political parties and the media to foster a culture of peace and tolerance in the society.
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The Vote In Peace campaign comes at a time when Zimbabwe is preparing for the 2023 elections, which are expected to be highly contested by various political parties.
Zimbabwe has a history of electoral violence, especially in the 2008 presidential run-off election, which was marred by widespread intimidation, torture and killings of opposition supporters.
Recently, ZESN has called on all political parties to adhere to the code of conduct stipulated in the electoral law and for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to ensure a level playing field for all candidates.
The organisation said it strongly believes that targeted peacebuilding efforts will go a long way in preventing election violence in Zimbabwe during the 2023 pre, polling and post-election periods. — _*263Chat*_