Community Outreach Meetings
The Outreach Team engaged with social movements and opinion leaders in each of the country’s provinces in order to have a better appreciation of the challenges that citizens have been facing and their aspirations. Issues related to unemployment, poverty, inhibited civic space,inequality , violence and disability. The community outreach meetings gave the Citizens Manifesto team the opportunity to engage with the communities on a one on one basis for better context, which is important for planning of interventions. It was evident that citizens who attended the meetings had a better appreciation of the Citizens’ Manifesto document, and there was minimal additional input made to the draft Citizens Manifesto. An edited version of the Citizens Manifesto document was produced and translated into the two main local languages, Shona and isiNdebele after the outreach meetings .
Public Discussions with community leaders
Two public discussions were held with community leaders in Seke Rural and in the CBD where the broader objective of both meetings was to create a platform for interface between community leadership and the citizens which was aimed at cultivating healthy dialogue that encourages free expression. Key issues included youth engagement in developmental processes and key national events such as elections. Both dialogues were also aimed at promoting tolerance, peace and accountability.
Training and capacity building workshops for Civil Society Organisations and Social Movements
Citizens’ Manifesto organized a series of capacity building workshops for social movement activists and provincial focal persons during the course of 2018.These training workshops were aimed at enhancing citizens’ capacity on
- understanding the social movement methodology, using nonviolent social action and improving skills on developing, implementing and monitoring action plans at local level.
- Creative Activism
- Citizens’ Election Monitoring
Participants came from the vendors associations, communities affected by mining, residents’ associations, youth formations, women’s rights groups and democracy activists Various solidarity actions have emerged as a result of convening the training workshop. These include the solidarity support given to Hwange community that was engaged in peaceful demonstration against the coal company that had not been paying the workers their salaries over a number of years.
A Provincial and National Citizens Convening
Citizens Manifesto held a Provincial Convening in Bulawayo on the 7th July 2018, in preparation of a National Meeting that was held on the 20th of July 2018.Due to the neglect and the 1980s genocide in Matabeleland and Midlands regions that left approximately 20 000 men and women killed in a genocide, it was significant to have the first 70 people be drawn from Bulawayo. Over the years, the state has failed to acknowledge and pay reparations to victims of
the genocide. This has become a dividing feature in Zimbabwean politics, making Bulawayo a priority area for the Citizens Manifesto. Being central, Bulawayo was a strategic location to bring in participants from surrounding Matabeleland North, South and the Midlands.
The National Convening was on 20th July at the Harare Gardens just a few days before the general election. Approximately 1000 people, most of who are affiliated to the Citizens Manifesto Network, attended it. Participants met to agree on a shared vision for the country. The highlight of the event was the appearance by the Elders, representatives, the late Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson. They expressed their solidarity and support for Zimbabwe and urged the government to respect the rule of law and allow citizens to exercise their rights. The Elders also reaffirmed their solidarity with civil society groups in Zimbabwe determined to bridge social fractures, and supported their calls for a new political settlement that delivers lasting social and economic justice alongside political freedom.Two commissions were represented, namely the Gender and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commissions. The representatives received the submissions from participants.
Two Tweet Tables were organised during the reporting period. One was held a month before the election in June 2018 and was an opportune moment to engage both online and offline around civic participation in electoral reform processes. During the event, the Citizens Voice Report, which captured citizens‘ opinions on key national issues ranging from freedom of expression, economic situation and the electoral processes was launched. A panel consisting of key civil society leaders in the democratic governance, media, legal and labour sectors gave assessment of the socio economic and political environment, which mostly resonated with the outcomes of the report.
The second Tweet Table was organised after the general election on the 4th of December 2018. At the time of hosting the Tweet Table, the Minister of Finance had just announced the national budget. A panel discussion comprising of key civil society and trade union leadership shared their insights on the shortcomings of the 2019 Budget and its impact on the different groups of citizens in the society
Social media continues to give citizens the opportunity to engage with policy makers through popular social networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp just to mention a few.
In 2018, there was an increase in action by social movements, most of which are affiliated to Citizens Manifesto. An example is the sustained Economic justice campaigns by the Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS). A popular campaign was the #MangudyaMustGo, which called for the resignation of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor, Dr Mangudya because of his adoption of policies that negatively affected ordinary citizens. Another campaign was the #BringBackOurNurses campaign initiated by Citizens Manifesto on the 18th of April 2018, after the Vice President of Zimbabwe, Constantino Chiwenga, fired nurses who had gone on strike due to poor remuneration.
Citizens Manifesto also embarked on a youth led electoral campaign to ensure that youths and the citizens at large actively participate in the electoral processes using social media. The campaigh dubbed #DefendTheVote , enabled youths to make meaningful and informed choices during the election. It comprised of crowd sourcing election-monitoring portal through the organic emergence of the Citizens’ Data project. A number of youth volunteers affiliated to Citizens Manifesto were trained to monitor the elections.At the same time an online campaign for citizens to take photographs of and share V11 forms posted outside their polling stations was launched. Thousands of people across the country shared pictures of their constituency V11 forms to the Citizens Manifesto WhatsApp and shared on Twitter. This became a parallel voter tabulation of the election results alongside that announced by ZEC.
A V11 form is an official electoral document that has consolidated electoral results at polling station.