During the first week of May, Afrobarometer, Institute for Justice & Reconciliation (IJR), and the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) released survey findings from their 2017 round. Elements of the survey findings sparked debate about not only the findings themselves, but also the methodology used to arrive at the findings. We concern ourselves less with the methodology for the purposes of points we wish to emphasis here.
For us, one of the most important aspects of the findings was that “three-fifths of adult Zimbabweans (60%) feel that the country is going in the wrong direction”. No sane Zimbabwean can deny this fact. It is an indictment against the ZANU-PF led government, by the citizens of Zimbabwe. In fact if not urgently addressed, the current crisis runs the risk of plunging the country into chaos on many fronts.
This alone is enough an early warning which should see all concerned paying attention to the pulse of the nation, more so just under 14 months from yet another decisive general election. It wouldn’t surprise us therefore that the momentum built through talks of a grand coalition of opposition political parties somehow give hope to a buttered citizenry. What may be needed urgently however, is the facilitation of an all-inclusive national broad-based convergence platform that allows key stakeholders representing different sections of society to come together and agree on imperatives for a democratic transition.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has argued elsewhere that Zimbabwe is going through a prolonged transition, and we still hold that view. Our desire is that the transition must deliberately produce a democratic outcome, which must see citizens retain confidence in many aspects of their lives; their leadership, national institutions, democratic process, and the economy, among others.
In this edition, we again bring back the question of succession and show cause why this, among other factors must concern SADC. Dr. Alex Magaisa urges SADC to keep an eye on the military as these have posed a constant threat to our constitutional order. This brings us to the question of security sector reforms. Whereas the most important reforms now seem to be electoral reforms, these need a serious back up through ensuring other reforms such as security sector reforms, media reforms and institutional reforms are also brought back into the discourse.
Mmeli Dube argues that civil society needs to reposition itself in giving direction to the current transition by providing thought leadership and lending its weight in support of key democratic processes that are currently underway in Zimbabwe. However, for this to happen, there should be a deliberate strengthening of civil society in Zimbabwe and lending of support by friends of Zimbabwe across the globe. He writes: “The regional and international supporters of democracy and human rights should render timely support (financial, technical, solidarity and otherwise) to the Zimbabwean civil society, help the country deliver a democratic dispensation and counter further democratic regression and possible chaos”.
We recognize that the civic movement, particularly those working on democracy, rights and governance has, since 2013, gone through a prolonged period of redefinition, which has left most organized entities weaker than before. Whereas the local civic movement and nascent social movements that found expression if mostly protest action in 2016 continue to do all they can to be on top of their game, the need for worldwide solidarity support as a scaffolding mechanism can not be over emphasized.
We therefore share with you in this edition, a set of 11 resolutions forming part of the declaration from a civil society national convergence conference convened by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in Harare, December 2016. The 11 resolutions agreed to by more than 70 representatives of key institutions drawn from across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe, including war veterans, as well as solidarity partners from South Africa, are key in giving direction to civil society’s interventions in 2017 going forward.
Lastly, we share with you in this edition, our position on the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process and hazard areas needing urgent attention towards 2018.