We arrived in Harare a week ago and it is clear that the talk of town is the upcoming election. A roadmap for the election is currently being drafted, and while people wait for the date to be announced there are many questions to be discussed. When will the election be? Who will win the election? Will the election be free and fair? Will there be violence?
Most people we talk to expect an increase in violence. There is a continuous flow of disturbing news coming from the rural areas. Bases are being set up by the security sector, youth militia and war veterans. People who are known supporters of the opposition or suspected to be positive towards the opposition are being visited by known or unknown men who warn that if they vote for the opposition blood will be flowing.
At the same time civil society is trying to unite and strengthen colloraborations before an election kicks off. This was demonstrated when Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum arranged a press conference to mark a strong response from civil society against the harassment and violence of human rights defenders.
“To come together and speak that is what we believe in – It is important that we speak out as an united group”, said Lovemore Madhuku from the NCA when he was asked about civil society’s response to the harassment and violence.
Meanwhile the NCA is preparing for the rollout of the campaign against political violence against women. The next step is to reach out to women in rural areas and to join forces with other civil society organisations to mobilise a strong and united voice to push for an end to political violence against women.