updated 11 Jul 2001
updated 11 Jul 2001
More than 100 national civil-society organizations are active members of SAPRIN/Zimbabwe. In addition, structures have been organized in six regions and 45 districts across the country. In each of the following districts, a committee has been organized that communicates with organizations and individuals at the district level:
Kwekwe, Kadoma, Chimanimani, Chiredzi, Bindura, Vic Falls, Lupane, Esigodini, Beitbridge, Chegutu, Chirumanzu, Hwange, Lower Gweru, Chivhu, Murombedzi, Zvishavane, Rusape, Gokwe, Mberengwa, Mudzi, Murehwa, Shurugwi, Kariba, Nemanwa, Hwedza, Plumtree, Gutu, Nyazura, Mvurwi, Rushinga, Marondera, Gwanda, Bikita, Nyanga, Chipinge, Binga, Nkayi, Headlands, Banket, Karoi, Dete, Chivi, Murambinda, Mt Darwin and Chikomba.
The Steering Committee is responsible for
coordinating the initiative at the national level with the district
committees. For important decisions, representatives of the district
structures are polled along with members of the Steering Committee. The
Steering Committee designated civil-society experts to form a Technical
Committee to design and oversee the research process. It also established
media and outreach sub-committees.
Civil Society Steering Committee members:
Technical Team members:
Media Committee members:
Outreach Committee members:
The SAPRI exercise in Zimbabwe began with a series of meetings involving national and international NGOs, labor unions, church groups, farmers' associations and the Chamber of Commerce. Given the rural, dispersed nature of much of Zimbabwe, it was decided to utilize television and especially radio to spread the word. Radio time was purchased and several programs explaining the SAPRI exercise were produced and broadcast. Members of the SAPRI organizing committee participated in numerous televised panel discussions along with representatives of the government and the World Bank.
Also central to the national outreach process was a series of six regional workshops held between November 1997 and February 1998. The national networks of the Zimbabwe Council of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches organized the one-to-two-day workshops, and facilitators were trained to work with the approximately 50 participants representing grassroots organizations in each region. To extend the outreach further, participants in these regional events agreed to fan out into rural areas and replicate the workshops at the village level. There were 45 local workshops held in early 1998, in which a total of 2,000 people participated, thus facilitating the formation of district committees.
These regional and district-level workshops were used to explain and solicit participation in SAPRI and to discuss thoroughly those aspects of the national adjustment program that were of the greatest concern to participants. Many issues were raised about the rising cost of living and the lack of consultation or study before and after economic programs are implemented. Local participation was extremely broad and even included soldiers and police, who explained that they were government employees and hence as concerned about adjustment as any other civil servants.
A two-day national meeting was then held in mid-March 1998 with representatives from each of the six regions and the civil-society Steering Committee, during which the issues raised at the local level were analyzed and further refined in preparation for the Opening National Forum and the subsequent field investigation.
Although there had been participation by government representatives in SAPRI activities in 1997 and early 1998, as political tension increased and the economic situation worsened the government disengaged from SAPRI. From mid-1998 until June 1999, efforts were focused on getting the government back involved in the SAPRI process. When these efforts failed to come to fruition, a series of civil-society meetings in June-July 1999 with representatives from the six regional and 45 district committees that make up the SAPRIN network led to the decision to move forward with the exercise regardless of the government's role.
The Opening National SAPRI Forum was held on 2-3 September 1999 in Harare. The more than 250 participants who met for two days to present their views on structural adjustment included residents from 45 districts across the country who represented farmers, small and medium-sized businesses and industries, women's organizations, trade unions, students, youth, environmental organizations, churches, disabled peoples' organizations, micro-finance workers, human-rights activists, academics and street children. Officials from the World Bank and government ministries also attended.
The Forum opened with presentations from civil society and the World Bank. Participants then joined in a discussion on structural adjustment and its impact in Zimbabwe, contributing their own experiences. They raised concerns that the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) and its successor, the Zimbabwe Program for Economic and Social Transformation (ZIMPREST), have failed to meet the majority of their targets (e.g., raising GDP, reducing unemployment or reducing inflation) and yet are still being vigorously pursued by the government, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Many also noted the negative social consequences of ESAP, which the Bank still contends is intended to benefit the poor and marginalized.
Following presentations on four thematic issues -- labor-market deregulation and the liberalization of trade and the financial and agricultural sectors -- participants divided into working groups to discuss the impact of these policies on various sectors of Zimbabwean society and to begin discussing alternative ways forward. The groups then reconvened in a final plenary to share their observations. A civil-society report was prepared to summarize the Forum's results.
Following the Opening National Forum in September 1999, the civil-society Technical Committee began working on further synthesizing the findings from the Forum and refining the issues for research. A workshop was held in November with the civil-society Steering Committee, World Bank representatives and members of several government ministries to review the research topics and reach agreement to move forward the research agenda. Although the government is not formally involved in the exercise, both Bank and government representatives have maintained interest in following the SAPRI process closely, and civil society has remained committed to keeping them informed of its progress.
Following the November 1999 meeting, the Technical Committee began drafting terms of reference for four studies addressing the areas of trade liberalization, agricultural-market deregulation, financial-sector reform and labor-market deregulation.When the Technical Committee met again in January 2000 to review the research work plan, it concluded that the research should be postponed until April in view of the parliamentary elections, which at that time were scheduled for March. It was agreed that the research could be carried out over a three-month period, given that much preparatory work had been done:
At the time the work plan for SAPRI research was agreed to, however, the political environment was stable and it was believed that the electoral process would be over by March 2000. Unanticipated events altered this context:
This turn of events required a revision of the research plan, which had included considerable field research involving community members. In view of the prevailing political climate and the likelihood of continued political violence after the elections, the Technical Committee saw it necessary to place less emphasis on participatory field work.
In July 2000, the civil-society Steering and Technical Committees agreed that the research should begin in August with a limited agenda and the use of secondary sources, supplemented by empirical data where possible. The participatory approach was revised to maximize the use of focus-group discussions and interviews with key informants, while using data collected during the initial outreach phase and at the Opening National Forum that would be supplemented by a new round of workshops.
A national methodology workshop was held on 1 August 2000 with members of the civil-society Steering and Technical Committees, as well as representatives from selected government departments and the World Bank. Discussions on the research agenda and terms of reference concluded that SAPRI research would move forward in the following areas:
In addition, a cross-cutting study was commissioned on governance and the changing character and role of the state under adjustment. The results of this study were to be incorporated into the reports on the five thematic research areas.
Field work, including participatory workshops held in 15 districts across the country, was completed by the end of November 2000. The draft research reports were completed in February 2001 and underwent further revision in March following a review by the Technical Committee. Final drafts were presented at the Second National Forum in April.
The civil-society network incorporated basic economic-literacy work into its organizing activities from the beginning of the SAPRI exercise in order to strengthen the outreach process. One-day workshops were held in each of the 45 districts where the civil-society network now has organizing structures established. Sessions focused on understanding the structural adjustment program carried out in the country, as well as on the national budget-making process. Input was elicited from participants in these sessions as to their views on problems and impacts resulting from adjustment, the role of the state and what its functions should entail, and the criteria and process for making budgetary decisions. This information was used to prepare the Opening National Forum and has also provided input for the research process.
A new economic-literacy plan began in September 2000 to coincide with the field research and the process of soliciting feedback on the draft research report. Workshops were organized during October and November 2000 in the 45 districts across the country in which the SAPRIN committees are active. Each day-long workshop provided essential training on economic concepts and elicited information from participants based on a series of specific topics prepared by the research teams. Workshops were organized during October and November 2000 in 15 districts across the country in which the SAPRIN committees are active.
The Second National Forum was held at the Harare International Conference Centre on 9-10 April 2001. Over 300 representatives of civil-society organizations and community groups from around the country participated in the two-day event, which received extensive media coverage. Although the government and therefore the World Bank had withdrawn from the initiative in Zimbabwe early on because of political disagreements between those two parties, both were represented throughout the forum and gave qualified support to the findings presented.
The results of each of the five studies -- the impact of public-expenditure management under adjustment on education and health care; liberalization of agricultural markets and the impact on production; the impact of financial-sector liberalization on the poor; the impact of trade liberalization on social welfare; and the impact of labor-market deregulation on workers and employment -- were presented in plenary sessions, and discussants from the government and World Bank commented on each. Participants then separated into groups to discuss each study and reported their feedback to the plenary.
Among the Forum's findings were the damaging effects that trade liberalization has had on the Zimbabwean economy, especially manufacturing. The country has become increasingly de-industrialized to the point where Zimbabwe has become a country of imports. Competitiveness, exports and much-needed tariff revenues have fallen sharply under adjustment. Participants noted that trade policy, rather than having been designed as part of a development strategy, was developed without attention being paid to institutional, structural, market or 'timing' realities. The liberalization of agricultural marketing, in the form of the precipitous withdrawal of government and subsidies, had a similarly negative impact, particularly among small landholders. Reduced access to credit and market sites and the increased cost of inputs and transport have reduced productivity, profitability and food security.
Interest rates of as high as 60 percent, a feature of financial-sector reform, have made borrowing impossible or extremely costly for a great many small urban producers and merchants, as well. The consequently large number of failures of businesses has contributed to the country's de-industrialization and to the bankruptcy of many indigenous financial institutions. Overall, the high interest rates have stimulated speculative, at the expense of productive, investment. Meanwhile, labor-market reforms have contributed to growing income disparities and to declining domestic demand through its depressive effects on wages and job security.
The Forum closed with a discussion of the way forward. A full report on the Forum proceedings was produced and a final country report is being prepared using the research reports and Forum discussions.