TrustAfrica is proud to be part of a civil-society funder collaborative called ZimbabweAlliance with solidarity partners that have included Wallace Global Foundation, Schooner Foundation, and Humanity United over the past 10 years. Through ZimbabweAlliance we have supported critical efforts in Zimbabwe, including support through constitutional expert Alex Magaisa to the historic Constitution development process which culminated in a new Constitution in 2013; seed funding to nascent movements which have grown into powerhouses such as Magamba Network and NAYO who are now anchor partners in Accountability Lab Zimbabwe; and most recently support to the Citizens’ Manifesto. Citizens’ Manifesto has become a vibrant convergence platform for progressive citizens, local community collectives, civil society, and activists in pursuit of a Better a Zimbabwe For All.
This past July and August, Citizens’ Manifesto, with further support from Action Aid Zimbabwe, hosted six Citizens’ Solidarity Forums which were livestreamed on the Facebook page of Heart & Soul News with over 40k views across the 5 forums. The Forums have provided much needed space for civil society, and ordinary citizens to discuss key issues which have been impacted and amplified by the onset of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe. The topics have looked at: Human Rights with a focus on State Responsibility & Citizen Security; Labour and Social Justice Today looking at COVID-19, Safety Nets and Labor Rights; Young People Taking the Zimbabwe: COVID-19 and Beyond; Women’s Rights and Gender Sensitive Public Service Delivery; Community Organizing During COVID-19: Reweaving the Social Fabric and Imagining the Future; and #ZimbabweanLivesMatter: Which Way Forward for Zimbabwe. Speakers on the different Forums have included activist & Booker Prize Nominee Tsitsi Dangarembga, as well representatives from Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights who have both been at the forefront of defending and advocating for the increasing number of human rights defenders unlawfully detained and arrested for exercising their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly during COVID-19. The latest Forum expressed solidarity with the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign as an expression of Zimbabweans’ call for an urgent resolution to the social, economic & political crisis. Other Forums focused on the unimaginable choices citizens & communities are having to make between risking their health or starving during COVID-19 – whether as workers (formal & informal) or women (primary demographic of daily wage earners). One of the most engaging Forum featured Gateway Zimbabwe and the community solutions and responses that citizens are devising in the face of COVID-19, including models of shared economies, and indigenous nutrition and wellness resources. During a time when freedom of speech and democracy is under threat in Zimbabwe, providing this space for citizens that is focused on solutions and responses, has proven critical. Together citizens are talking to each other about the future they want and are committing to what they are willing to do to germinate the seeds of an alternative future in their communities.