Civic society leaders in Mutare say holding elections this year would be a recipe for disaster.
Organisations which include the Women's Coalition, Zimbabwe Peace Project and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) are in Mutare taking part in a conference on human rights running under the theme Protecting and Promoting Women's Rights during elections in Zimbabwe: Strategies for Peace Building and Documentation of Violations against Women.
ZLHR board member Trust Maanda said holding elections this year would be catastrophic.
“This environment is not conducive to having undisputed elections that are not characterised by human rights abuses. People are still scared about the brutalities associated with elections in Zimbabwe.
“Calling for elections this year is being inconsiderate especially to the worst affected people who still bear physical and emotional scars of the recent elections in Zimbabwe,” said Maanda.
Participants said women usually bore the brunt of violent elections as evidenced in the 2008 presidential election run-off.
Elections in Zimbabwe have been characterised by torture, rape and unnecessary loss of life, among other abuses perpetrated by political parties.
The conference called on law makers to ensure perpetrators of violence were not allowed to hold public office and that those victims of violence together with the perpetrators received psychological support.
Eminent human rights defenders attending the conference included Jestina Mukoko, who was abducted and brutally assaulted for months in the run-up to the 2008 plebiscite.