WOMEN rights groups on Tuesday launched a campaign to end political violence ahead of the August 23 elections.
The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Women and Law in Southern Africa, Women Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (Walpe), and other organisations, including UN Women, called for a code of conduct for political parties amid increasing cases of political violence.
Zimbabwe Institute operations and programmes manager Belinda Ncube said political violence was pushing away women from participating in politics.
“Women are increasingly not participating in politics. We have not seen any gains. You look at the statistics from last year and the 2018 elections, you can see that there is a big drop; we believe that political violence is the major contributor,” she said.
There is only one female presidential candidate in this year’s election — Elisabeth Valerio — compared to four in 2018.
“Women are shying away from political participation and electoral processes. We have seen women being abused, harassed and being beaten. We are advocating violent free elections. We want free and fair elections and we should vote for women,” Ncube added.
Walpe media and publication officer Helen Kadirire said the government and political parties should create a conducive environment which allows women to participate in politics without fear.
“We only have one female presidential candidate. This is a cause for concern. We need a free and fair environment which also respects the sanctity of life,” Kadirire said.
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Meanwhile, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) trained various stakeholders, including political parties, on electoral gender-based violence on Wednesday.
ZCC representative Fredrick Thondhlana urged the participants to be torch bearers of peace-building in their respective communities.
NPRC commissioner Obert Gutu said the commission was holding countrywide training aimed at preventing electoral gender-based violence.
The training was attended by various stakeholders, including representatives of media houses, political parties, civil society organisations, various government institutions and officials from different State security organs.