Case Study: Defending civic space in Zimbabwe

Civil society organizations (CSOs) from across the country met under the Civil Society Collaboration Platform to discuss, strategize, propose, and implement joint advocacy on restrictive regulations, protocols, and bills that will further limit the operating space. Plans are underway to have a broad collection of CSOs jointly advocate against the proposed Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment bill, which has been announced in the Government Gazette. 

Executive Summary

The emergence of COVID-19 resulted in the weaponization of the law, which further restricted rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The government enforced statutory instruments that seek to limit the spread of the virus but have also infringed on the rights of citizens. Unfortunately, most people do not have access to platforms to report violations of their rights. The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) is working to change that. We developed a mobile application, called SPECC, to allow citizens to report rights violations. 

Reports can be made anonymously to protect citizens’ identities. The SPECC application provides a platform for citizens to report rights violations, anonymously if they so wish or fear victimization. 

Civil society organizations have also been impacted by the restrictive regulations. They face impending enactment of laws that will further limit civic operating space. The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions have provided an environment where bills are signed into law overnight without the required or adequate consultations. Some of these bills seek to impose greater surveillance on the work of civil society. This project seeks to bring civil society organizations together to strategize and advocate to stop those restrictive bills from becoming law.