Strengthening Peacebuilding in Zimbabwe

Two years ago, Humanity United began to explore alternative approaches to peacebuilding that harness the potential and power of local and national actors to drive lasting change. We believe the people who are most affected by conflict need to lead peacebuilding efforts, as they are uniquely positioned to identify and implement solutions for lasting change.

As part of this strategy, we committed to supporting efforts to build sustainable peace in Zimbabwe. We invested in deep partnerships with Zimbabwean innovators, influencers, and change-makers to develop more inclusive and effective approaches to peace in their country.

Since we started out together, Zimbabwe has undergone seismic shifts in its political and economic environment: Robert Mugabe ended 37 years of rule in November; Morgan Tsvangirai, the charismatic veteran opposition leader, passed away in February. Throughout this time of transition, hundreds of thousands of citizens have risen up to demand respect and an active stake in their country’s future, as they so aptly demonstrated during the July 30 elections.

During this critical moment for the country, I travelled to Harare in April to meet with partners and friends who have committed to launching Zimbabwe’s first peacebuilding social lab. The energy for real change was palpable: I was struck by the fact that although the groups involved in the lab do not usually come together, they are all committed to finding new ways of working with each other to create a lasting peace in a country where it has been elusive for so long.

Over the next few months, our Transforming Peacebuilding team will walk alongside our Zimbabwean partners to support their efforts to launch a unique and highly dynamic peacebuilding lab. The lab represents a space to build trust among Zimbabweans to arrive at a shared understanding about the hotly contested and deeply polarized nature of their country’s conflict. The idea is to create new communities, values, ideas, and activities that take aim at the root causes of conflict and amplify domestically driven solutions to support peace.

Their vision is groundbreaking. No program has sought to bring together so many diverse representatives from across Zimbabwe’s political spectrum. Like all ambitious undertakings, it will be a space to come together to experiment, fail, learn, and then try again.

This lab will offer Zimbabweans an opportunity to challenge the traditional ‘project’ approach to change. Instead they will work over time to build a broad constituency for transformative change in Zimbabwe. We hope our engagement can be part of the ‘answer’ that Zimbabweans seize to construct a peaceful, prosperous country for all those who live in it.