Political participation by young women in the 2018 elections

This is a preliminary report on a research project between the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), the Institute for Young Women’s Development (IYWD) and HIVOS. The aim behind the study was to examine young women’s reasons for participating or not in the 2018 elections in the context of a pre- and post, matched-sample design. The decision was made to use IYWD as a case study, using its members. This would allow not only an understanding of participation in elections, but also provide IYWD and HIVOS with a deeper understanding of the success that IYWD has had in motivating and mobilising its members.
This builds on previous research by RAU in the 2013 elections when it carried out a pre-post-election study with The Women’s Trust (TWT).1 This research showed that going women-to-women was highly successful in motivating women to register and vote in the 2013 elections, producing an increase in the number of women that stated that they had voted in 2013 elections (79%) as opposed to the 2013 Referendum (11%) and the 2008 first round (27%). It was also found that participating in the TWT workshop was for the majority (60%) an important reason for participating, belying the view that workshops do not have much effects, and, additionally, that “word of mouth” was also seen as important for a significant group (43%).

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Resilience or tolerance

Drawing on the lives of youth living in precarious conditions, we analyse in this paperthe ways in which the youth in Zimbabwe respond to varied shocks that they face intheir everyday lives. We note that for many years the political and economic challengeshave eroded the capacities of many Zimbabweans, but the impact on the youth hasbeen discernibly high. Yet the youth have remarkably survived the tenacity of political,social and economic challenges. Many people have described this response asresilience. As such we seek to test this aspect of bouncing back in view of social,economic and political developments in Zimbabwe since 2000 and determine if this canbe an aspect of resilience or its just sheer luck. We want to know why this phenomenonis uniquely Zimbabwean? Why did the Zimbabwean youth fail to get to the tippingpoint? What can be learnt from this? We use meta-analysis and direct interviews of thekey informant and individual youth to test our hypotheses that Zimbabwean youthhave an outstanding way of responding to shocks and are able to re-bounce backwithout necessarily being recruited into forces of violence, crime or anarchy.

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Women and Social Capital in Zimbabwe: A Statistical Analysis

Social capital has become an increasingly investigated variable in understanding citizen participation, or lack of it, in public life and politics. Whilst there are reservations about the explanatory power of the concept, there are also demonstrations that social capital is a factor that influences communities, lowers crime, and may increase political participation. Although demographic variables do not seem to influence the growth of social capital, at least one study indicates that there are some gender differences (Onyx & Bullen. 2000).There are few studies of social capital in African countries, which is interesting given the strong and central role that women play in communities, and especially rural communities. One study has examined the relationship between social capital and political violence (Bhavnani & Backer. 2007), but the relationship between social capital and active citizenship more generally remains virgin territory. A recent Zimbabwean study, which included social capital as one variable in examining active citizenship, found differences between urban and rural residency in two measures of social capital, intimate and institutional trust (RAU. 2015). However, this study did not examine social capital in the broader sense, including belonging to community groups or attending community meetings, for example.

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Who guards the guards? Violations by Law Enforcement Agencies in Zimbabwe, 2000 to 2006

A democratic state is one in which the government respects human rights, will freely allow democratic activity, and whose law enforcement agencies will try to protect all persons against violation of their rights, regardless of the political affiliation of the people involved. The role of the police in a democracy is summed up in Article 1 of the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials as follows:

Law enforcement officials shall at all times fulfil the duty imposed upon them by law, by serving the community and by protecting all persons against illegal acts, consistent with the high degree of responsibility required by their profession.

In stark contrast, a repressive regime with no respect for human rights will disallow ordinary democratic activity, and will use the law enforcement agencies to stifle dissent and opposition. The law enforcement agencies will themselves become the main human rights violators and a source of fear for those being targeted. A state in which this situation prevails is described pejoratively as “a police state”.

The last time the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum issued a specific report concerning the conduct of members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police [ZRP] was in 2003. In that report the Forum made serious allegations about the involvement of the ZRP in torture. The 2003 report was based on reports that the Forum and its member organisations had received in the period from January 2001 to August 2002

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The Tree of Life: a community approach to empowering and healing survivors of torture in Zimbabwe

The article explores the effectiveness of the use of an empowerment workshop, called the Tree of Life, in the treatment of torture survivors. The approach is based on a survivor-to-survivor model of assistance.

The Tree of Life is a group-based approach to the healing and empowerment of survivors of organized violence and torture. It is facilitated by survivors themselves who have been trained and supervised in the methodology. It uses the metaphor of the tree to provide a framework for understanding the trauma experience, and, through a series of inter-related processes, leads the survivor into an appreciation of his or her strengths and the support of the community in surviving.

Research into the effectiveness of the method is carried out using pre and post measures in a psychiatric screening instrument measuring depression and anxiety. Participants were also asked for feedback in a structured self-report upon completion of the workshop. In addition, an exit interview was conducted after follow-up, three months after the first workshop session

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This paper falls into three sections.

The first section provides a brief overview of organised violence and torture in Zimbabwe, mainly drawing on statistics from the 2001-2009 period, but in some cases going back further, Figures showing the kinds of abuse inflicted and its frequency provide evidence of the extent to which Zimbabweans have suffered during this period of complex emergency, when the infrastructure of the country has collapsed around them. Further surveys are presented to support the argument that damage to the psychological well-being of the population is likely to be one of the most serious and long-lasting effects of the ongoing crisis. Information gathered from war veterans underlines the persistant impact of unresolved trauma after the liberation war and figures relating to the gukurahundi, to elections and to Operation Murambatsvina show how specific events have increased the level of mental suffering. Furthermore, the effects of organized violence and torture in Zimbabwe must be contextualized within the global HIV epidemic (of which Zimbabwe is an epicentre) and the social effects of economic decline and mass impoverishment.

It is also argued that attention must be paid to the psychological well-being of those who have suffered indirectly , particularly women and children, as research suggests that the impact of violence and torture extends beyond those directly victimised. A second category of indirect‘ sufferers includes the impact of these forms of suffering on mental health professionals and human rights workers.

The effect of organised violence and torture on the social fabric of communities and the disempowerment which results both from individual suffering and from the fragmentation of relationships and systems which might have provided support or offered resistance is acknowledged as another important area for attention.

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Subliminal terror? Human rights violations and torture in Zimbabwe during 2008.

Although human rights violations have taken place in Zimbabwe over the past three decades, the major focus in this monograph will be upon the period 2000 to 2008, with special reference to 2008. It is evident from reports published over the years that there have been serious violations of human rights prior to this time, both during the Liberation War, and during the 1980s in Matabeleland and the Midlands, and, of course, neither of these two periods should be excluded from any process of accountability. Indeed, Zimbabweans have themselves already argued that there should be a full accounting for all human rights violations since the original occupation of the country in 19th century1. The kinds of accounting will obviously be very different for the various time periods: prior to 1965, it would seem that a Truth Commission process would be most appropriate, whilst, subsequent to this time, there have been strong arguments that a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission would be the appropriate mechanism.

However, the major reason for selecting the period from 2000 onwards is to reflect a number of developments. Firstly, the UN Convention Against Torture only came into force in 1984, whilst the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court only became operative in 2002. Thus, as regards international jurisdiction, no case of torture prior to 1984 could be considered by an international court, and no case regarding crimes against humanity can be considered in respect of events prior to July 2002, although the UN Security Council could act on its own as it did in the cases of the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Of course, there could be no international objection to Zimbabwe examining all previous human rights violations through the setting up of its own domestic tribunal. After all, domestic remedy is a considerable improvement over international remedy, and indeed international remedy is there mostly to provide for situations where domestic remedy is not possible, for whatever reason

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Thoughts on national healing

Civil society has long anticipated the current dynamics and questions facing those concerned with transitional justice in Zimbabwe. In 2003, against the background of inter-party talks about possible transition, a Symposium was held in Johannesburg, which made comprehensive recommendations on the ways to manage the consequences of organized violence and torture, including ways in which truth, accountability and healing should take place.

However, it is apparent that the national situation has changed (and deteriorated) considerably since 2003. A strong argument can be made that Zimbabwe now conforms to the kind of situation currently termed a “complex emergency”. In the context of economic collapse, the collapse of all supportive services [health and social welfare], severe food shortages, and mass violence, Zimbabwe resembles a country at war, but without the obvious features of war. The types of trauma reported, especially in the past five years, conform in most respects to those seen in obvious times of war – the profiles for the pre-Independence period and Matabeleland in the period 1980 to 1987 are markedly similar to that seen nationally since 2000. Certainly, the mental health consequences seem wholly similar to what would be seen in other complex emergencies where there has been obvious war.

The most manifest effects are physical, seen in illnesses and injuries, which may be short-lived, but also may lead to long-term disability. However, the most persistent consequences will be psychological, and especially if the trauma was deliberately inflicted. Here four points should be emphasized:

 Firstly, the most probable long-term consequence of experiencing organized violence and torture is the development of a psychological disorder.
 Secondly, the probability of psychological disorder following organized violence and torture increases with the frequency of experiencing physical harm, such as torture.
 Thirdly, the probability of psychological disorder increases with the number of exposures to trauma such as organized violence and torture.
 Fourthly, whilst men are probably the most common primary victims of OVT, women and children are disproportionately the most common secondary victims, and certainly secondary victims are much more common than primary victims.

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