Call for broad-based national dialogue to resolve the national crisis: ACBO Independence Day Statement

Today, the 18th of April 2020, Zimbabwe stands at forty (40) years post-independence. However, the nation is still grappling with a socio-economic and political crisis. Unjust institutional structures coupled with destructive socio-economic policies which are further compounded by a perverse political system and culture of governance continue to betray the efforts of the multitudes of heroes and heroines who championed the liberation struggle. We salute the courage and bravery exhibited by those who sacrificed their lives for the love of the country and are obliged to fulfil the aspirations and ethos for a better Zimbabwe.

The Alliance of Community Based Organisations (ACBOs) takes this year’s independence day commemoration, as an opportunity to further remind the nation on the question of national dialogue by sharing the Citizen’s Perspectives on Dialogue in Zimbabwe.

A national-level action-based research conducted by the ACBOs in 2019 through its membership spread across the country’s provinces revealed that:

  • The socio-economic and political crisis has led to a worsening and debilitating socio-politico-economic environment, hitting most hard on people’s access to livelihoods and basic social services. The ordinary citizen in Zimbabwe is barely surviving, living between a rock and hard place.
  • There is consensus within the Zimbabwean society that dialogue is the preferred route to solve the political impasse and resultant crisis in the country.
  • In as much as the nature of crisis is perceived to be political, communities anticipate the dialogue to go beyond the political question and address the socio-economic questions of access to basic services and livelihood opportunities.
  • Whilst political parties are crucial actors, communities are of the view that there is need to broaden any dialogue to include other societal actors, such as civil society, churches and business. It should also be nuanced enough to be inclusive of other socially marginalised groups including people living with disability, women and the youth.
  • The communities believe that the dialogue should be convened locally, with a significant majority proposing this to be convened by the church, whilst there is also the possibility of co-chairing.
  • It is important for the communities that the dialogue achieves the following: Stabilisation of economy; Unity and consensus, Political tolerance and Respect and community healing.

As we commemorate four (4) decades of independence, we reiterate that:

  • All parties interested in the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis should actively seek the route of dialogue.
  • The current dialogue initiatives need to be expanded beyond the political question to include the social and economic questions. The stabilisation of the economy should form a key component of seeking sustainable dialogue solutions.
  • Civil society needs to initiate a process of gathering the views of citizens and ensure that these find their way onto the national dialogue agenda.
  • For the advocates of dialogue, there is need to bring the main parties, ZANU PF and MDC Alliance, to the table but at the same time create room for other key societal stakeholders such as civil society organisations, church and business.

Source: Alliance of Community Based Organisations (ACBOs)