Zimbabwe

Once an economic powerhouse, Zimbabwe continues to suffer from a worsening currency and economic crisis, leading to a rise in protests with some turning violent.

 

Traditional coping mechanisms have been eroded, leaving communities unable to deal with tensions and conflicts over resources, political power and identity.

Our local partner, Envision Zimbabwe Women’s Trust, has been working in Murewa and Hurungwe districts since 2008 to address the deeply embedded culture of violence by training traditional local  leaders and engaging the police force in conflict transformation.

 

Zimbabwe: Country overview

Zimbabwe is in a state of flux. 2016 has seen a rise in protest movements using social media against the Mugabe Government with demonstrations taking place across the whole country.

On 2 July 2016 there were violent demonstrations in Beitbridge border town. This saw running battles between demonstrators and the riot police. The economy is facing total collapse evidenced by widespread cash shortages. The central bank has ordered all the banks to limit amounts that individuals and corporations withdraw.

The government has been failing to pay salaries to the over 500 000 civil servants who take up 80% of the national budget in salaries. This has seen mass action across the public sector.

On the political front campaigning has started in earnest across the country with opposition parties calling on Mugabe to resign. Factionalism in ZANU PF continues to weaken the ruling party and the government in general. War Veterans have been clashing with various leadership within the ZANU PF party. This has seen expulsions and suspensions of some senior members of the party. The situation remains tense.

 

Stopping violence against women and training police in non-violent techniques

In this complex and rapdily changing environment where the security of our partner is constantly at risk, Envision support local Peace Committees to defuse community tensions, and prevent violence against women.

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Envision provide training to traditional chiefs and the Zimbabwe National Police Force in non-violent conflict resolution. Through workshops and training sessions participants learn how to reduce friction and tensions at work and in every day life. Last year 70% of police officers who participated in the training confirmed they are now trying to handle conflict differently in their day-to-day policing.

We are supporting Envision’s growing Early Warning Early Response network. This monitors flashpoints of violence so they can be quickly identified and calmed. Local Peace Committees mediate in community disputes, or refer cases to the police. This helps defuse tensions and resolve triggers of conflict like stock theft, sexual attacks against women and domestic violence.

In one example, the Early Warning group defused a case of public violence which took place on a bus. Political touts were shouting party slogans and harassing people in the run up to elections for a member of parliament. The touts had held the bus up, refusing to let others board and intimidating passengers. Some members of the Early Warning group were called in. They notified the police and managed to control the situation before fighting broke out.

Envision also prevent violence against women by providing gender training and supporting women who have been victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse.

With elections scheduled for 2018, an economy on the verge of collapse and protests turning increasingly violent, there is an urgent need to support organisations on the ground already working to stop violence escalating. We are committed to supporting Envision to do this, no matter how difficult the circumstances.

 

 

In their words: Patrick's Story

We have experienced our challenges and upheavals, including politically. Even now we have to be wary of how we handle such matters as leaders in our area. In homes there are many domestic issues. This has not been helped by the economic breakdown of our country. Then we have had to deal with many disputes pertaining to land, and our traditions that are being slowly eroded.

When our Chief brought Envision to our community we were sceptical, especially when they indicated they would not be donating goods and money but rather training us how to live peacefully.

As we attended these trainings I personally began to appreciate the knowledge we were receiving. Our traditional positions as leaders have no such training. Now I am informed and am able to analyse matters that are brought to the courts with a new mindset and see things differently. I must say we were especially not fair to women in the past, we tended to give more ear to the men and advise women to submit to men. However all this is changing after we received gender training.

I am very happy that we have a peace garden that is our own as a community. It’s not that we don’t have garden of our own but this one is different in the sense that it brings all of us together and unites us. We feel we have a purpose to achieve as we work together.

My hope is that this same spirit continues to our future generations, having a spirit of oneness and the ability to plan together and produce together. It brings peace, I am happy and humbled as a leader.

News from the field

Blogs, stories, reports and opinion

A crisis on the horizon for Zimbabwe?

The crises on the horizon in Zimbabwe seem much more urgent than any planned electoral process, it is hard to see how the country can function until 2018. Read more »

Zimbabwe: in a state of flux

Tom Gillhespy reflects on the increasing state of flux in Zimbabwe, and why supporting local organisations working on the ground is ever more crucial. Read more »

Women taking action

With our help, women in conflict zones are now taking action to promote peace both within their local communities and further afield. Read more »

What we do in Zimbabwe

Research and in-depth analysis

From our website Insight on Conflict