The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) on Thursday launched a violence monitoring and aggregating project that seeks to work as an early warning system on political violence as the country braces for make-or-break elections next year.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
The human rights watchdog said the project, Early Warning Indicators of Political Violence, was a result of the escalation in political violence in Zimbabwe since the 2000 polls and the lack of a reliable single data portal that aggregated all human rights violations during elections.
ZPP programmes co-ordinator, Hope Ruswa, said the organisation would be working with media in providing reliable and verified election violence reports.
“The early warning indicators aim to track, monitor and record all possible signs of potential electoral violence ahead of the 2018 elections. The indicators try to anticipate the potential nature, scope and scale of political violence,” he said.
The election has a lot at stake, as President Robert Mugabe, at 94, is likely to face a united opposition, which in the past few days has started forming pre-electoral coalitions.
Ruswa said the organisation had deployed trained monitors in all constituencies across the country.
“We have 420 permanent monitors across the country. Each of the 210 constituencies has two people on the ground monitoring all the political activities,” he said. Among the indicators the monitors will be looking for are systematic rise in incidents of intimidation or political violence, setting up of torture bases, increase in hate speech among politicians and recruitment and training of youth militias.
Other indicators will include the conduct of police, like arbitrary banning or restricting of public assemblies organised by opposition or civil society groups.
ZPP has monitored violence and electoral malpractices in all the recent three by-elections that have been held in Norton, Bikita West and most recently Mwenezi East. The organisation had noticed the beating of opposition activists, denial of food aid based on political affiliation and the banning of opposition gatherings on spurious grounds.