Zwnews Chief Correspondent
Some Zimbabweans who still bear and the memories that characterised the country’s past elections have come together by forming a community initiative to keep each other safe before, during the election-day and after.
The initiative code named ‘We the People of Zimbabwe’ has been set up to empower the electorate by calling the group or using SMS messages to numbers provided, whenever they feel they are being spotted, interrogated, or facing any form of harassment before, during and after the polling day.
The idea behind the initiative is that communities or neighbourhoods can work together to keep each other safe.
To join the initiative, one has to note the colour for various incidents used to send SMS to toll free numbers given.
The following tips are to be used during the election-day, if you notice the following violations 1) people being forced to do what they do not want; you send the SMS message in green colour. 2) People being threatened with violence one is expected to send SMS in orange colour. 3) In case of violence having had broken out one sends SMS in red colour. 4) For electoral malpractices such as being forced to vote, forced to queue, or registration slips demanded, one should send the SMS message in black colour.
Some of the incidents to be reported before the elections include if there are suspicious movements of people in ones’ community, people being given things in exchange for votes, political bases set up, or political parties threatening people with violence if they do not win.
What to report during the election-day, include not being able to get to the polling station, being questioned in a certain manner while in a queue, being bussed to polling stations, being questioned if and how one has voted, being denied access to vote, traditional leaders acting as voting officers.
After the voting day some of the things to be reported include, delays in posting and announcing of results, beatings and threats linked to voting results, suspicious people moving around in ones’ area, being asked who one has voted for.
The toll free numbers to be used are; for Econet lines, the number to send SMS to is 08080240, for Netone is 08010085, and the general phone number is 08677007479. SMS or calls to these numbers are free of charge.
Upon receiving the SMS designated teams under the initiative will visit the area from which an incident has been reported, and do follow ups on those reports, with intention of taking necessary measures.
Security measures; ‘We the People of Zimbabwe’ participants are expected not to interfere with the voting processes, investigate incidences, get involved in altercations. In fact they should observe civility respect, obey instructions from the police, polling officers. Since ‘We the People of Zimbabwe’ participants are not formally recognised by ZEC, observer privileges do not apply to them, hence the need to keep oneself-safe.
The initiative comes at a time there had been politically motivated violence in the previous elections, where parties; especially ZANU PF members have been assaulting opposition party members. Recently, some senior officials from the ruling party have reportedly threatened people with violence if President Emmerson Mnangagwa loses the election to MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa.