NATIONAL TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE WORKING GROUP ZIMBABWE An Urgent Call for Action! NTJWG Pre-Election Transitional Justice Briefing 26 July 2018 Embracing the Imperatives of Peace, Avoiding Violence About this Briefing In less than a week, Zimbabweans head for the polls in the first post-Mugabe election. It is a tightly contested election pitting a post-Tsvangirai opposition coalition and a post-Mugabe ruling party. Both the opposition and the ruling party are promising real change, equating the plebiscite to the 1980 elections that ushered in majority rule. As the momentum rises, the tension rises as well, creating fears of social unrest and protest in the days ahead. This situation raises transitional justice questions that we beg the nation to reflect on. In this briefing, we raise some red flags as we believe we are on the road to a disastrous election that has a high violence potential in the aftermath. These issues, we believe can only be ignored at great risk of instability. Areas of Concern Ahead of the Elections As we enter the 2018 harmonised elections, Zimbabwe is walking a tight rope, a space that is as fluid and fragile as it is unpredictable. Several issues are of concern in as much as they contribute to the fluidity of the situation in Zimbabwe. We here raise red flags over the following issues that, unless resolved, create a real risk of instability and bloodshed in Zimbabwe. The Military Factor First, the election is being held after the 17 November 2018 military coup which over threw Robert Mugabe and ushered in a strong military element in key government positions, a situation that a good number of Zimbabweans feel is a threat to democracy. The military element, now in government, has gone on to make pronouncements to the effect that the upcoming elections are a conclusion of the ‘operation restore legacy’. Such statements when coupled with the admission by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that 15% of its staff are from the military,1 are cause for concern. Human rights monitors have reported an unprecedented military presence in the communities. Despite the resemblance of calmness and peace, these factors place the upcoming election within the context of a military operation which is a serious assault on the integr ity of the election. S enior 1See report in the Newsday of 27 February 2018, available here 1 NTJWG PRE-ELECTION TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE BRIEFING – 26 JULY 2018

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