The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe has issued its post by-election statement bemoaning fear, vote-buying and intimidation of voters.
The statement was published in the Newsday of 1 July 2015. It is signed by Arch-Bishop Alex Muchabaiwa who is the Chairperson of CCJP.
The statement notes some election-related irregularities. CCJPZ dispatched a team of 118 election observers to observe the June 10 by-elections. The observers, among other things, observed traditional leaders directing their followers who to vote for in Headlands. The statement bemoans the lack of voter education especially from Zimbabwe Electoral Commission whose official some of them refused to cooperate and assist election observers with information and statistics on voters. The observers witnessed indications of vote buying as some voters confessed that they voted to prevent a second Gukurahundi. In Tsholotsho, voters said they were encouraged by their leaders to thank the ‘local donor’ who gave them a school and promised a stadium.
CCJPZ warns that if we continue to flout electoral laws, we can never experience real peace in Zimbabwe. The Pontifical Commission warns Zimbabwe not to confuse peace with a kind of unanimity and tranquility imposed by force and keeping power in the hands of a single group where citizens are not able to take part in public life, forcing them to withdraw and become disinterested. CCJPZ says its observers identified fear, tension and apprehension in communities. It regrets that political choices are influenced by poverty, social service insufficiency, food handouts, agricultural inputs, clothes, blankets, residential stands and other things given or promised in exchange for votes.
CCJPZ recommends a holistic process involving national peace, healing and reconciliation, and voter education as well as a commitment to upholding electoral laws.
The statement concludes, “We cry together with the Prophet Isaiah that ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.’” Hosea 4:6-7. You can read the whole statement here…CCJP Statement 01-07-15