COVID-19 and stigma in the communities

COVID-19 and stigma in the communities

By Letwin Mubonesi

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Deputy Chairperson, Lillian Chigwedere says the COVID-19 pandemic has become one of the major causes of a surge in disputes within communities leading to loss of lives.

She said this during a provincial peace committee and preventative dialogue meeting in Harare yesterday.

She said the pandemic has influenced stigmatisation and discrimination resulting in conflicts in the communities.

She also said, “Over the past two years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has hit the underprivileged and the marginalised the hardest.

“People caught in conflict are especially vulnerable in terms of lack of access to healthcare, socio-political rights as well as livelihood support. As peace committees, it is our role to be observant and intervene whenever possible.

“The pandemic has also been accompanied by a surge in stigma, discrimination, unresolved disputes and hatred which only cost more lives instead of saving them. COVID-19 has made Zimbabweans more aware of the need to come up with measures to address conflicts at local level, hence emphasis on preventative dialogue.”

However, she said that the commission was shifting focus towards the upcoming 2023 elections to ensure that peace prevails in the country.

“Currently, there is a shift in focus to the 2023 elections. In order to guarantee non-recurrence of perennial elections-related conflicts, the onus is on you to engage robustly and deliberating in preventative dialogues of all stakeholders to ensure that re-emergence of past experiences is curtailed.”

Harare Provincial Development Coordinator, Tafadzwa Muguti also urged NPRC to be inclusive in promoting peace prior to the 2023 elections.

“As you are aware, the country is now geared up for the election period and it is my hope that peace committees will take necessary preventative measures to facilitate local level dialogue on how to deal with cynical electoral violence, uncertainties and contestations usually associated with the country’s elections,” he said.

Nyari Mashayamombe

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