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TWO DAY SYMPOSIUM ON THE MEDIA AND THE 2018 HARMONISED ELECTIONS

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DEPARTMENTS OF ENGLISH

AND THEATRE ARTS: TWO DAY SYMPOSIUM ON THE MEDIA AND THE 2018 HARMONISED ELECTIONS

VENUE: HLT 500: UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE

DATES: 17-18 MAY 2018

WORKSHOP THEME: PEACE – EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR A CREDIBLE 2018 HARMONISED ELECTION

Introduction

As part of its academic mandate, the University of Zimbabwe shall host a two day symposium on the 2018 Harmonised Elections. This is a sequel to the July 2017 symposium which attracted enormous interest from various stakeholders. At least 270 delegates attended the first leg of the University of Zimbabwe election workshops and symposia. This workshop takes place against the background of the realisation that universities are hubs for both public debate on matters of strategic national importance as well as knowledge generation. It is unthinkable that universities can become bystanders and take no interest in matters that have a bearing on national development. There is need to accentuate national debate on elections in line with the President’s call for a free, fair and non-violent election. This message must be digested at various forums. As such, the University of Zimbabwe is providing such a platform that brings together people from diverse sectors of the nation. It can never be emphasised that the university’s research agenda should be derive from the national development agenda.

Furthermore, as an institution of higher education, the University of Zimbabwe is conscious of the need to provide a platform for debate on topical issues while simultaneously exposing trainee journalists to critical public debates such as national elections (election reporting is part of the curriculum). Their future work as journalists requires in-depth knowledge on contemporary debates on electoral processes and their relationship to the national constitution. In addition, the university has a mandate to provide platforms that engender knowledge production for use by its surrounding communities and stakeholders. Providing a forum for public debate on national elections is central for nurturing open public debate as well as influencing behaviour.

Focus of workshop

In the recent past, elections in Zimbabwe have been marred with political and social violence. As a result, the outcome has often lacked credibility, plunging the nation into a serious political quagmire. The media, civil society, judiciary, security services, society and political parties are stakeholders with the mandate to help de-escalate political violence. For that reason, the workshop intends to bring together the media, government, civil society organizations, community leaders (chiefs), academics and members of the diplomatic community, security sector and judiciary to discuss a roadmap on how the forthcoming elections can be held peacefully.

While currently there are multiple and disaggregated conversations within the media and the civil society focusing on the forthcoming election, there is need to add more “voices” with a focus on peace, tolerance and national unity. As such, the proposed workshop has a strategic focus on preaching peace and tolerance during the forthcoming elections. It is anticipated that this workshop would be a precursor to a series of other election-related dialogues and debates to be produced by trainee journalists at the University of Zimbabwe. In order to ensure that the symposium will make a big impact, it will be covered on ZBC TV, with whom UZ has a Memorandum of Agreement. In addition, and whenever possible, other productions can be sold to international channels such as BBC and Aljazeera.

Justification

Developments taking within the structures of political parties and community structures point to an environment ferment with divisions, in-fighting and jostling for political office, tribal prejudice and a general social disquiet within communities arising from the fear of previous violence meted on them during election time. As Zimbabwe re-positions itself in the “new dispensation”, the proposed workshop takes place at an opportune moment for open and rational debate on national political and democratic processes.

Proposed workshop themes

2018: Peace – everyone’s responsibility for a credible 2018 harmonised election

 Sub-themes

  • The role of parliament in election processes
  • A history of elections in Zimbabwe – lessons for the present and the future
  • Role of traditional leaders in ensuring a peaceful and violence free election
  • The media and peaceful elections
  • The role of the church in elections
  • The Law and Elections in Zimbabwe
  • Key stakeholders in the electoral process and their role in peaceful elections
  • Role of youth in elections
  • Civil society contributions to electoral processes, including peaceful campaigns
  • Healing, peace and reconciliation
  • Healing, peace and reconciliation vis a vis the 2018 Harmonised Elections
  • Elections and achieving peace
  • The voices of the marginalised and the 2018 Harmonised Elections
  • The diplomatic community and their experience of observing elections in Zimbabwe
  • Impact of electoral violence on legitimacy, democracy and national consensus
  • Peaceful elections and the prospects of economic recovery in Zimbabwe
  • Impunity for perpetrators of political violence
  • The role of the police in ensuring a peaceful election
  • Role of political parties in ensuring a peaceful election
  • Perspectives from Independent Political Party Leaders
  • Arts Activism and Elections in Zimbabwe
  • Constitutional provisions on dispute resolution and remedial acts during elections
  • The judicial system, capacity and role in electoral processes
  • Women and Elections
  • Political activism and the 2018 Harmonised Elections
  • People living with disabilities and elections
  • Violence, peace and the 2018 harmonised elections.

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