Welcome Message From The Executive Director
Our Big Bets for 2020
Welcome to SIVIO Institute. As you may already know we have spent the past two years engaged in intensive social experiments trying to answer the question ‘what will it take for Zimbabwe to be more inclusive’. Our tagline reads, ‘a quest for an inclusive society’. There are few definitions of an ‘inclusive society’ which come close to what we are aspiring to. Inclusion by its very nature is usually context driven. In our case (Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa) we note the alienation caused by the legacy of colonialism, use of identity to exclude others, weak institutional arrangements to safeguard human rights (both political and socio-economic) and the failure to uphold values of democracy as the impediments to inclusion. At our inception we had noted that Zimbabwe and indeed the rest of Africa have to address the following challenges:
- Weak and ineffectual systems of governance-especially the lack of accountability on government performance
- Increased dependence on foreign resources
- Limited local participation in the economy
- Inadequate systems of engaging citizens on local and national issues
- Lack of coherent public policies
- Increased poverty and inequality
Our work in the past two years has so far focused on identifying ways of responding to the challenges that are listed above. It is too early to discuss impact but our online-based tracker and the different reports we produced have contributed towards animated discussion especially on social media platforms. We also used the same period to nurture a new discourse on what an inclusive society should look like. We have, on three occasions traveled to all the provinces in the country discussing with citizens on their aspirations. Our findings so far indicate that citizens have a different language from that of experts. Citizens speak of jobs, clean water, health delivery, security, prices of goods. They have strong opinions on what officeholders (at local and national government levels) need to focus on. We also asked questions around citizens’ agency and we learned a lot about associational life, solidarity within communities and even their willingness to give to each other. These gifts include but are not limited to money. Whilst acknowledging it as fact that the conditions of living in Zimbabwe have been deteriorating many of those, we spoke to have not given up hope but they are frustrated by the political class.
We also spent time with fellow Development Practitioners especially those engaged in policy advocacy in workshops and seminars to help nurture and grow a critical mass of evidenced-based policy analysts and practitioners within civil society
Although it is not always easy to reach a consensus given the different set of values informing our work, we loosely agree on the need to ensure that:
- we try as much as is possible to ensure that citizens have voice;
- our advocacy message aligns with citizens expectations
- we use evidence to inform our advocacy position
- we defend the rights of the weak and poor in society
We are excited about 2020 and look forward to making significant strides towards literally digging in and carving a niche for ourselves. Experiences from the previous two years have given us some level of confidence to make big bets on citizens and the work they do with each other. In our surveys we realized the importance of the work done by citizens. We believe that it is these men and women who will contribute towards an inclusive society in the decade that we have just entered. We make a commitment to partner with citizens’ organisations spread across the country and where possible to help give them voice and capacity in the various ways in which they work. Our endeavors will remain focused on ensuring a pro-citizen focused public space. In the next decade we shall:
- Through policy research, advocacy and dialogue ensure that government is effectively contributing towards equitable and inclusive growth, respect of human rights and is accountable to citizens
- Play a catalytic role in supporting the growth of philanthropy that leverages local resources
- Grow entrepreneurship especially amongst the youth
We believe that sufficient financial, intellectual and collective action investments towards (i) enhancing the effectiveness and accountability of the democratic developmental state, (ii) enhancing prospects for domestic resource mobilisation to gradually reduce dependence on foreign resources and (iii) building a new cadre of local entrepreneurs able to create jobs and mobilise saving for long term national accumulation. We strongly believe that investment into these three areas tempered with sensitivities to gender disparities, historically alienated communities and ongoing reform of the international system will contribute towards a more inclusive society. We are not naïve, this is a tall order but honestly, we do not have a choice. And yes, the operating environment may suddenly change and work against us. That also is part of the risk of our work. There are many enemies of progress, our development or rather civilisation has been under constant disruption by various forces; colonization, a rampant and self-perpetuating politically connected elite, an unfair international system and also natural forces such as climate change. We have no choice but to intensify our efforts. There is an urgent need to set things right- the country has been in decline for far too long-we all have a responsibility to make a positive and lasting contribution. In line with the above we have spent time re-organizing our work around three centres as per figure below:
Promote a citizen focused democracy by catalysing citizens’ agency to enhance government performance and nurture the mobilization of community assets.
What Problems is SIVIO Addressing?
Board of Directors
Centres & Programs
We are essentially striving towards the achievement of inclusive societies that are characterized by political systems which are open to all and tolerant of diversity of opinion and identity. We also believe that the hallmark of inclusive societies should be broadly shared economic growth and also equitable access to social goods such as health, education, housing, food security and sanitation. In all this we believe that citizens and the civil society that they belong to are critical both as a space in which values, frameworks of development and ideologies are contested and defined but also as an arena where organized social formations can tilt the balance of power and influence it for the greater good of society.
SIVIO Institute has three centres/programs of work focused on: