ADVISORY: A Momentous Opportunity for Democratic Reform in Zimbabwe

November 22, 2017

The unprecedented events in Zimbabwe over the past several days have rightfully seized the world’s attention. Vanguard Africa has closely followed developments in the country and has collaborated closely with activists and pro-reform political parties long before our organization was formed in 2016. At this truly historic juncture in the country’s history, the Vanguard Africa team wishes to extend our well wishes, strength and hope to the millions of Zimbabweans who can now look forward to a potentially brighter and more prosperous future.

The hard work now begins. The same military officials responsible for egregious human rights violations, disdain for the rule of law and countless killings, disappearances and detentions of activists, journalists and dissidents are poised on the precipice of immense power. This will require vigilance on the part of Zimbabwean citizens. The future of the country undoubtedly lies in your hands.

In order to set a sustainable democratic foundation in Zimbabwe, a broad-based coalition authority will be necessary. This transition period will ideally be followed by free, fair and credible elections -- including the presence of legitimate international poll monitors -- as soon as it is feasible. Importantly, elections should take place after significant state reforms are implemented and the country’s laws are properly aligned with the 2013 constitution.

We additionally urge the United States government to back democratic forces in Zimbabwe by investing in programs that support a robust civil society, a free and independent media and an empowered citizenry that is enabled to safeguard basic democratic rights. Objective technical support for the upcoming elections -- including assistance with the country’s electoral register and data systems -- will be paramount in order to prevent the type of brazen election rigging that has plagued Zimbabwe in the past.

We also call on U.S. lawmakers and Department of State officials to increase diplomatic pressure and principled engagement with leaders in Harare at this critical time— these moves can help expedite necessary electoral and legal reforms and raise the odds that Zimbabwe’s new leadership will adequately reflect the will of the people, which is long overdue.

At Vanguard Africa, we continue to stand in solidarity with the countless courageous Zimbabweans who have, quite literally over the years, put their lives on the line to advance social change. You have inspired us all. We sincerely look forward to your next chapter, and to helping you attain your country’s long latent potential.

Disclaimer: Several members of the Vanguard Africa team have directly supported Zimbabwe’s political opposition movements since 2008. To stay updated on all of our activities, including in Zimbabwe, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or visit our website. We look forward to being in touch.