The Alliance will work to improve the political and socio-economic environment in Zimbabwe by working with civil society organizations using the following approaches:
1. Stakeholder Mapping and Engagement: The Zimbabwe Alliance will identify key individuals and organizations engaged civil society within Zimbabwe and map the relationship dynamics between them. The mapping exercise is intended to provide a comprehensive mapping of ongoing initiatives, advocacy campaigns and dialogues and to cover the totality of about 3,000 groups active in civil society, including urban and rural organizations.
2. Civil Society Convening: A series of forums would convene key individuals and organizations in-country as well as in the Diaspora to develop a plan for engagement in a 'new' Zimbabwe. These forums will develop positioning statements, and identify structures, mechanisms and resources to strengthen civil society. The convenings will bring together key individuals from 50 groups that would have been engaged in the mapping exercise (see above). The goal of the Civil Society Convening is to have a representative array of civil society groups, diaspora networks and international partners to share information and experiences, explore opportunities for collaboration and maximize collective impact in advancing the 'new' Zimbabwe.
3. Learning Journey: A learning journey will be organized for donors and international stakeholders to deepen understanding of the current realities in Zimbabwe. The goal of the learning journey is to provide an opportunity for interested funders to physically visit and interact with civil society actors 'in the trenches'. The first learning journey will have 10 - 15 donors. The donors will be taken to Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, and Masvingo.
4. Civil Society Organization Capacity Building: The Alliance, through Africa-Action will facilitate skills training in advocacy, e-activism, media, fund raising, team building, strategic planning, computer literacy and organizing. Initially there will be two Zimbawe Alliance Centers for such skill building workshops, one in Harare and the second one in Bulawayo, each working with at least 10 groups on an annual basis.
5. Leadership Development: The Alliance, through Synergos, will develop the leadership capacity of Zimbabwean civic leaders by facilitating local and global peer-exchanges and by providing networking opportunities with individuals of influence. Twenty carefully identified leaders will go through the leadership development program every year. These leaders will represent all sectors of civil society, with a particular emphasis on women, girls, youth, and grassroots leaders.
6. Advocacy and Outreach: A Zimbabwe Advocacy Resource Center will be developed by Africa-Action to serve the Zimbabwe civil society organizations, the Zimbabwean Diaspora community, advocacy groups and policy makers. The resource center will provide all relevant information and tools for effective organizing in Zimbabwe. Working with a Zimbabwe civil society partner, Africa Action will produce regular policy briefs and updates to inform policy makers and the advocacy community.
7. Grant Support: The Alliance, through the Fund for Global Human Rights, will provide grants to select civil society organizations to support their work. The goal is to provide resources to ensure a robust and effective Zimbabwean civil society
Zimbabwe--once one of the most prosperous countries in Africa--is still in a dire state, despite the formation of a new unity government in early 2009. The constant harassment and intimidation by the Zanu PF government has reduced civil society, including the media, to a shell of its former self. The policies of the Mugabe regime over the last decade have resulted in severe reversals in democracy and human rights. The collapse of Zimbabwe's economy plunged millions of people into poverty and left poor communities vulnerable and without opportunities. Moreover, an opaque state apparatus has created a culture of corruption at the expense of national development.
A stable, democratic Zimbabwe is essential for progress in the Southern Africa region; given the social and economic crisis, a strong civil society is critical for progressive change. The unity government has increased the democratic space in Zimbabwe to enable civic leaders to begin discussions on how best to mobilize and regroup in order to realize the future political and economic reform. It is important to not only work towards rebuilding and empowering civic leadership in Zimbabwe, but also to draw upon the substantive capacity of the Diaspora, which has been increasingly disconnected from the reality on the ground.
The range of talent and expertise both in and outside the country is immense: it needs to be harnessed in a forum to design and implement a comprehensive engagement strategy for civil society by promoting collaboration and information sharing among civic leaders and others from different sectors. This work is critical so as not to repeat the challenges faced by other countries such as South Africa, where civic leaders from across the board joined the new government following the transition, without putting into place the structures and mechanisms needed to fill the leadership and institutional gap left by their departure. This is important for Zimbabwe where a significant number of civil society leaders have already joined the inclusive government. Efforts to convene and provide a space for civic leaders to discuss strategy, promote collaboration towards a common end goal, and share expertise and resources in a targeted manner can lead to substantial benefits in terms of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the reforms that are now being discussed.