Harare civil society organisations that came together at a multi-stakeholder Conflict Management, Resolution and Transformation training that was hosted by the Non-State Actors Alliance (NSAA) identified socio-economic and political factors currently affecting Zimbabwe as probable factors of causing conflict.
Participants cited cash shortages, high unemployment rate, informal sector, escalating poverty levels and gender based violence as socio-economic factors that often cause conflict in communities.
With regards to cash shortages, representatives of civil society said the root cause includes corruption, closure of companies, lack of political will, lack of confidence in the banking system and lack of foreign direct investment.
On the other hand, impending elections, just ended primary election, noting of voter registration slip serial numbers and splitting of main opposition political party were stated as examples of political conflict.
Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) Coordinator, Michelle Duma, informed attendants that when there is conflict, people often see the world differently. The experiences, cultures, religions, sense of identity, perceptions, and beliefs of each individual or group help shape how the person or group feels and acts in the conflict.
“The frustration or denial of human needs and human rights leads to conflictual behaviour, a sense of trauma, and violence. Conflict occurs when people seek to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others. Some people believe that they have the right to meet their own needs at the expense of others,” she said.
Duma added that “For most people in response to conflict fighting is often the first instinct. There is an element of physical abuse and feelings being hurt needs not met, rights being violated and the need for total victory by involved parties causes violence to spread when it starts. Those watching tend to take sides and others join in depending on their interests.”
The meeting noted that as part of conflict management, resolution and transformation, peace building initiatives need to be intensified as conflict in communities often worsens during election periods. community members use the time to settle scores and seek vengeance for past offences.