Target: Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police
Goal: Protect women’s right to vote in Zimbabwe
Women in the rural villages of Zimbabwe have been threatened and forced to flee because they will not reveal who they will vote for. Some of these women are political activists, and some are ordinary citizens. Those who are mothers are sometimes forced to leave their children behind. Others are being coerced into accepting an assisted ballot.
Village heads in the Mukumbura district have started threatening women to vote for their candidates. Unfortunately when the victims went to the police, nothing happened. This has been a reoccurring theme throughout every election and shows that there is corruption in the Zimbabwe police force. Also, supporters of Zanu-PF, the ruling party of Zimbabwe, have tried to coerce the women to feign illiteracy, blindness, or physical injury so someone else could mark their ballots, thus allowing the supporter to vote for their candidate. Some of the families say that they have been targeted by village heads and the police because they support the Movement for Democratic Change. In the last election there was a significant number of assisted voters, which doesn’t make sense since Zimbabwe has the high literacy level in Africa. The last election that brought President Mugabe back into office was called foul; many believed the election was rigged.
The women who have fled the Mukumbura district say that there are other families who are not so fortunate. They have to remain in a violent and oppressive atmosphere, where their votes are swayed, and they live alongside a police force that does nothing to protect their rights. These incidents are not contained to just the Mukumbura district. There have been reports of the same thing happening in the Mberengwa district with the same pattern: women fleeing, children left behind and the police doing nothing.
For a country where everyone is allowed to vote, all voters must be allowed to do so fairly and without the threat of violence. The village heads should be prosecuted for threatening their villagers and the police should be pushed to do the right thing. It is sickeningly apparent that women in particular have become the target of all these threats, even ones who have children. Sign this petition and demand that the Zimbabwe police force actually protect their citizens.
Dear Augustine Chihuri,
I am writing to express my frustration with the lack of protection for your female voters. Women in the district of Mukumbura have been threatened by their village head and Zanu-PF supporters to vote for their party of choice. Some of these women have been forced to flee, leaving behind their families and children. Other incidents involve women being instructed to feign blindness, illiteracy, and physical injury so someone else could mark their ballots.
No doubt these people are not voting for the women’s candidate. When these victims went to the police nothing happened. There wasn’t an investigation, an interrogation or even a visit. This unfortunately has been a reoccurring theme during every election and it should not be happening. Women’s right to vote should be protected. They should never feel threatened by their police; they should feel safe.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Kwande via Getty Images