Sowing Seeds of Civil Society in Zimbabwe

In the struggle to build strong civil society and democracy, the toughest work lies ahead.

A fter a century of brutal colonialism and dictatorship, the people of Zimbabwe are working to build a strong civil society and democracy in the 21st century.

They want to empower local communities, increase access to education, demand respect for human rights and give regular citizens a say in how they are governed. Their efforts have gained some momentum, but success will not come easily. Recent efforts to bring about change through democratic means have faced major setbacks.

The Fund, in partnership with TrustAfrica, the Schooner Foundation and International Development Exchange, is proud to support the Zimbabwe Alliance and its allies in the pro-democracy movement in their unyielding efforts to strengthen civil society.

“For more than a decade, Zimbabweans have been struggling for democracy, decent livelihoods and basic human rights against a political elite determined to hold on to power and privilege at all costs,” says Briggs Bomba, project director of the Zimbabwe Alliance. “Heroic activism and international solidarity has put the Zimbabwe regime on the back foot. However, as in the words of one activist, ‘The regime is shaken but it has not fallen.’”

The next years will be crucial for the democracy movement as Zimbabwe faces the uncertainty of what will happen after the death of Robert Mugabe, the 90-year-old autocrat who has ruled the country for three decades.

The Fund is committed to supporting democracy and civil society organizations in Zimbabwe. The Fund partners with Zimbabwe Alliance,a donor collaborative that offers direct support through re-granting and helps organizations strengthen their capacity through technical assistance, training and coordination.

Grantees in Zimbabwe include:

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is the largest coalition of civil society groups working to promote democracy, human rights and good governance in Zimbabwe.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)

With over 75,000 grassroots members across the country, WOZA is the largest women’s civic movement in the country leading mass campaigns for gender justice, political freedoms and social economic justice.

Magamba Cultural Activist Network

Magamba is a leading network working to promote the vision of a free and just Zimbabwe through creative youth activism, new media, popular cultural events and citizen journalism.

Habakkuk Trust 

Habakkuk Trust works to enhance citizen participation in decision making through civic education, capacity building, citizen mobilization and political social justice advocacy programs at community level.

ZIMVOICES

ZIMVOICES is a consortium of key civil society organizations that came together to enhance transparency and accountability in electoral processes in Zimbabwe through harnessing cutting edge new ICTs and mobile technology and leveraging multi-sector civil society collaboration around elections.

Zimbabwe Alliance – click to expand text

The Wallace Global Fund is a founding member and key funder of Zimbabwe Alliance. The Zimbabwe Alliance is a collaborative initiative of like-minded donors that promotes human rights, democracy and sustainable development in Zimbabwe. The Alliance brings together a diverse pool of donors in a spirit of collaboration in order to leverage limited resources, increase collective efficiency and maximize impact. To date, the Alliance has received valuable contributions from TrustAfrica, Wallace Global Fund, Schooner Foundation, International Development Exchange, Mize Family Foundation, Lester Fund, American Jewish World Service and some individual donors.

Our Focus

The political environment in Zimbabwe remains very restrictive and limiting with regard to meaningful citizen participation. Zimbabwe continues to struggle with meeting some of the most basic tests for a democratic society, as several obstacles stand in the way of free citizen involvement.

  • Constitutional Rights Advocacy: The Zimbabwe Alliance played a key role in supporting the drafting of a new, more democratic constitution for Zimbabwe. Today the Alliance is focused on promoting rights literacy and supporting efforts to ensure the full implementation and enforcement of the new constitution with a priority focus on securing human rights and democracy.
  • Political Participation and Elections: Guaranteeing the right to free political participation is essential to building democracy in Zimbabwe. The Alliance is working to promote free citizen participation in key local and national political processes with a particular focus on elections. It supports campaigns and advocacy work to create conditions for free and fair elections through electoral reforms and by supporting local and citizen-centered elections-monitoring processes.
  • Public Accountability: The culture of impunity at the heart of Zimbabwe’s political crisis manifests as pervasive corruption and lack of accountability in the operations of public institutions and officials with catastrophic impact on service delivery and people’s social and economic rights. The Alliance works to support local organizations to cultivate a vibrant civil society to hold government accountable to the needs and rights of the people.
  • Inclusive Cities: Like most of Africa, Zimbabwe is faced with rapid urbanization creating immense pressure on the urban environment, social fabric, economy, infrastructure, service delivery and governance systems. This brings to the fore questions of inclusive and sustainable urban sustainability. Zimbabwe Alliance works collaboratively to support innovative community driven initiatives to co-create solutions to urban sustainability challenges. Underpinning this work is social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Our Approach

The Zimbabwe Alliance prioritizes support to traditionally marginalized groups especially women’s organizations, youth, arts and culture activists and community-based organizations. The Alliance employs the following core strategies to achieve targeted objectives:

  • Grant making: The Alliance engages in grant making, regranting and deploying rapid response funds, which provides civil society actors with financial resources to seize key opportunities and respond to unforseen threats in advancing human rights and democracy.
  • Capacity Building: We believe that strong institutions are essential for sustainable policy change and transformation. To that end, the Alliance extends special support to help build the resilience and strength of civil society partners through innovative and needs-driven capacity-building packages.
  • Convenings: We believe in participatory and collaborative approaches and the co-creation of solutions to pressing human rights and democracy challenges. Accordingly, the Alliance uses convenings as a key tool for inclusive dialogue, engagement, consultation, and to foster collective responses.
  • Research: We believe in empowering activists and advocates with knowledge that enables them to take informed action. The Alliance works with scholars, journalists, activists and research institutions to support relevant research that informs policy and advocacy.

Our Impact

The Zimbabwe Alliance’s impact to date includes:

  • Securing a place at the table for civil society in key political processes including constitutional reform and elections.
  • Amplifying voices of traditionally marginalized groups, especially artists, women, and community-based organizations.
  • Creating platforms for civil society to engage in dialogue and to coordinate strategies.
  • Providing urgent support and protection to human rights defenders in dangerous situations.
  • Mobilizing regional and international solidarity.
  • Enhancing the capacity of key civil society organizations, activists and policy makers.
  • Facilitating the participation of Zimbabwe’s diaspora in shaping the future of the country.
  • Facilitating peer learning and coordination among donors working in Zimbabwe.

 

Below are some of the civil society organizations and initiatives supported by the Wallace Global Fund through the Zimbabwe Alliance:

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is the largest coalition of civil society groups working to promote democracy, human rights and good governance in Zimbabwe.

www.crisiszimbabwe.org

 

Women of Zimbabwe Arise

With over 75 000 grassroots members across the country, WOZA is the largest women’s civic movement in the country leading mass campaigns for gender justice, political freedoms and social economic justice.

www.wozazimbabwe.org

 

Magamba Cultural Activist Network

Magamba is a leading network working to promote the vision of a free and just Zimbabwe through creative youth activism, new media, popular cultural events and citizen journalism.

www.magambanetwork.org

 

Habakkuk Trust

Habakkuk Trust works to enhance citizen participation in decision making through civic education, capacity building, citizen mobilization and political social justice advocacy programs at community level.

www.habakkuktrust.org

 

ZIMVOICES

ZIMVOICES is a consortium of key civil society organizations that came together to enhance transparency and accountability in electoral processes in Zimbabwe through harnessing cutting edge new ICTs and mobile technology and leveraging multi-sector civil society collaboration around elections.

www.zimelections2013.com

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