Southern Africa ChangeMakers
June 2009

Reconstructing Zimbabwe's Ruins

After years of political strife, economic meltdown and runaway humanitarian disasters, Zimbabwe's fledgling unity government now has the unenviable - but mandatory - task of rebuilding a broken and suffering land.

Children collect stagnant water for use at home in Harare
Children collect stagnant water for use at home in Harare (Photograph AP)

With inflation reaching 230,000,000%; a deadly cholera epidemic; country-wide food shortages and an unemployment rate of more than 90%, a recent Physicians for Human Rights emergency report called the health and economic crises affecting Zimbabwe, ‘man-made disaster’.

By early March, cholera had claimed more than 4,000 lives and nearly 90,000 Zimbabweans had been infected since the outbreak began in August 2008.

The fall-out from Zimbabwe's crisis continues to have a huge impact on the entire region, with an estimated three million economic migrants fleeing Zimbabwe in search of work. The social security systems of neighbouring countries - particularly South Africa, Botswana and Zambia - are struggling to deal with this influx.

On the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa (11 May), the South African press described the problem as 'a sleeping beast'. Experts warned that it was likely to rear its head again, particularly if large numbers of Zimbabweans continued to seek a better life elsewhere in the region. This, they say, would be exacerbated by the current global recession, which is seeing increasing numbers of jobs being lost, particularly in labour-reliant industries such as manufacturing and mining.

There is a real threat that, if concerted efforts are not made now, the Zimbabwean situation will continue to affect investment into the southern African community for a number of years to come. However, competing priorities mean the spread of limited finance across the various sectors of intervention has reached a critical point. Zimbabwe is facing a multi sector crisis: Food, health, water supply, sanitation and protection remain the main priorities at the moment.

Yet all is not doom and gloom: now that the political situation is improving and with the adoption of two stable currencies, some signs of hope are emerging. According to a recent BBC World Service report, the new Zimbabwe unity government's adoption of the US Dollar and South African Rand - an effort to forestall ongoing economic collapse - is beginning to stabilize the rampant inflation and Zimbabweans are starting to see signs of food prices decreasing.

For the ordinary Zimbabwean, living on less than US$2 a month (when the price of one liter of cooking oil recently cost US$2.50), this is welcome news.

Although critics argue that whilst President Mugabe is still in power, no substantial aid packages should be considered, recent studies have shown that the longer the SADC and the international community wait, the more funding will be required:

  • In mid-2008, the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe estimated it would take around US$350 million to address just the immediate, humanitarian needs; by November 2008, that figure had grown to US$550 million. It is still increasing!
  • The food security situation continues to deteriorate: the original United Nations' Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) 2009 projected five million Zimbabweans depending on food aid in the first quarter of 2009; two months later, that number has increased to seven million.

People like Jay Naidoo, chairman of the Development Bank for Southern Africa, believe there is a vested interest in rebuilding Zimbabwe, because of its potential to become the food basket of the region once again.

“Rather than focus on Mr Mugabe, we should focus on programmes which have a practical benefit for ordinary Zimbabweans, who today are living in absolute deprivation,” he said.

Yet, despite the hard times, the spirit of the Zimbabwean people has not been destroyed. This is according to human rights lawyer Tinoziva Bere, who also is vice president of the Zimbabwe Law Association and legal counsel for United Methodist-related Africa University.

“We could have degenerated to racial and other hatred and we could have resorted to killing each other, but the only killing that has gone on has been by militias - paid, drugged and given beer to encourage them to do those things,” Bere explained in a recent interview. “Ordinary people have remained what they have always been, the peace-loving Zimbabwean people.”

Bere, who is based in Mutare, said that while temporary relief is coming to some quarters, poverty cannot be eliminated in the country until capacity is restored, people are able to grow food and produce products and dependence on imports is reduced.

Sources: BBC World Service, IRIN, PanAfrican News, SACIS, Physicians for Human Rights, United Nations, SARPN,,, United Methodist News Service, SACSIS

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Map of Zimbabwe
Map of Zimbabwe

New political dawn. Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai carry the hope of Zimbabweans living in grinding poverty.
New political dawn. Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai carry the hope of Zimbabweans living in grinding poverty

Jay Naidoo, Chairman DBSA
"Rather than focus on Mr Mugabe, we should focus on programmes which have a practical benefit for ordinary Zimbabweans, who today are living in absolute deprivation."
Jay Naidoo, Chairman DBSA
Although all SADC countries are at various stages of economic growth, the biggest challenge will be encountered in integrating Zimbabwe, whose inflation is way above the regional average of between 3% and 17%.

Zimbabwe flag

Zimbabwe is probably the most recognizable modern-day example of how mismanaged political, economic and social policies can create a poverty horror trap that is hard to fathom.

Some rural Zimbabwean children are still forced to have school lessons under trees
Some rural Zimbabwean children are still forced to have school lessons under trees

Rebuilding Zimbabwe: one brick at a time

On March 30 2009, leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) promised to help Zimbabwe raise between US$8 billion and US$10 billion to rebuild its collapsed economy and tackle the humanitarian crisis in the country. The plan now calls for US$2 billion in short-term relief.

Whilst these figures are staggering, the lives of millions of people are at stake, as well as the future of the SADC's plans for a free trade area and common currency.

Although all SADC countries are at various stages of economic growth, the biggest challenge will be encountered in integrating Zimbabwe, whose inflation is way above the regional average of between 3% and 17%.

With some of the SADC targets for integration due this year, this factor could make trade and integration a mammoth task. “Foreign buyers will continue to abscond Zimbabwe and choose other countries," said John Robertson, an independent economic analyst. "We have a destabilizing factor in Zimbabwe. Other countries have less than 10% inflation. Zimbabwe's integration will be much slower.”

There is a need to bridge the gap between what is humanitarian and what is developmental, as support to development sectors and activities in Zimbabwe has traditionally been poor. The humanitarian community has consistently advocated emergency funding for agriculture, education and health - including water and sanitation and HIV/AIDS.

Zimbabwe is probably the most recognizable modern-day example of how mismanaged political, economic and social policies can create a poverty horror trap that is hard to fathom.

Practical solutions are needed for the aid packages to be effective. But, in doing so, the fact that Zimbabwe is literally starting again from zero, must be taken into account.

It is not enough, for example, to just give immediate food aid. What is more important is food sustainability: reigniting the agricultural sector at both commercial and community level, providing Zimbabweans with the means to grow their own food as well for export, thereby reestablishing foreign currency flows. In the same breath, ensuring a marketable framework in which agriculture can flourish is equally important.

Education requires a similar effort; it is a known fact that education decreases poverty and for decades, Zimbabwe's education was the envy of the world's developing countries and boasted the highest literacy rate in Africa. Immediate interventions are needed to get children back into a re-invigorated education system - from pre-school to tertiary level.

The same needs to happen with health care. With the collapse of the country's health care system, any support to eradicate the cholera epidemic, or the implementation of a more substantial ARV treatment programme to counteract the HIV/AIDS pandemic, needs to be underpinned by the re-establishment of an effective national health care programme. At the same time, this must be backed up by the rebuilding of the water and sanitation system, which has been neglected for decades.

Now is the time to intensify efforts to help ordinary Zimbabweans, who continue to bear the brunt of many years of mismanaged economic and social policies. Failure to do so will see the Zimbabwe situation continuing for many years to come, with the potential of ongoing and increasingly negative impacts on the progress and success of the entire SADC region.

Sources: BBC World Service, IRN, PanAfrican News, SACIS, Physicians for Human Rights, United Nations, SARPN,,, United Methodist News Service

Civil society representatives from Zimbabwe including Jacob Mapfume (center) are regular participants in SALO’s policy dialogue events.
Civil society representatives from Zimbabwe including Jacob Mapfume (center) are regular participants in SALO’s policy dialogue events.
Jacob Mapfume said:

“What we simply want is the same freedoms that the South Africans have, that the people in Botswana have: the freedom to sit in a room like this without fearing being arrested, the freedom to have an alternative TV station, the freedom of having an alternative radio station, the freedom to send your children to school, the freedom of having clinics.

It is not European freedom, it is not British freedom, these are simple freedoms that every SADC citizen should understand, and we do not understand where the complications come from.

When the South Africans were not independent we wished them the same freedoms that I had. When I was young and when I was reading that Chris Hani has died, when I was reading that Nelson Mandela was released from prison, it was the same freedom that I was experiencing that I wanted the South Africans to experience.

It becomes very difficult for us to understand how the comrades who understood freedom then can now complicate it and cannot understand it, and cannotsimply say, look comrade Robert Mugabe you cannot treat people in this manner. It's simple I think.”


Starving billionaire

Partner links:

For a long time now, the Southern Africa Trust has been quietly working with several grant partners at a macro level to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans. We showcase two examples in this edition of Southern Africa ChangeMakers.

Thokozani Khupe, then MDC vice president, Ebrahim Ebrahim, then head of the ANC International Affairs Committee and H. E. Xavier Marchal, European Commission ambassador to Harare; addressing a SALO workshop
From left to right: Thokozani Khupe, then MDC vice president (now Deputy Prime Minister), Ebrahim Ebrahim, then head of the ANC International Affairs Committee (now Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation’s) and H. E. Xavier Marchal, European Commission ambassador to Harare; addressing a SALO workshop.

1.  South Africa Liaison Office (SALO)
  The Trust gave US$250,000 to the project, The Zimbabwe Conflict: an obstacle to regional integration and development, which aims to bring attention to how the Zimbabwe issue is an obstacle to regional integration and development.

This project succeeded in stimulating policy dialogue and debate amongst a variety of regional and international stakeholders and SADC policy makers. Whilst SALO itself says it is too early to gauge whether the project has had a direct impact on the SADC's positive shift on the Zimbabwe issue, several important stakeholders have acknowledged the efforts of the project, including leading Zimbabwe civil society activists and representatives of the South African government, governing party and international diplomats.

This initiative used two channels to mobilize civil society; both directly through activities which targeted civil society and also through the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (a South Africa-based civil society forum). These channels mobilized civil society, amplified its voice and increased civil society's influence on public opinion and policy makers, highlighting the need for decisive action by SADC governments to end the violence and electoral problems, which have prolonged the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Further, the project provided a platform for players such as the World Bank, Wits University, UNISA, the EU and the South Africa government to debate the threat Zimbabwe poses to the region's goals and integration process.

2.  Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CRISIS)
  The Trust supported the project Displacement of Zimbabweans - implications for the Region with a grant of US$150,000 to clearly identify the extent and effects of displacement of Zimbabweans into the SADC region, in particular, the impact on poverty alleviation efforts.

CRISIS used three innovative methods to draw attention to the plight of displaced Zimbabweans and used these to lobby for change in the Zimbabwe situation:

  1. They amplified the voices of displaced Zimbabweans and the poor communities in the countries that were hosting them, using arts, drama and radio coverage at SADC conventions in Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and South Africa.
  2. They increased understanding of how the Zimbabwe government's policies were deepening poverty, not only within Zimbabwe but also in the region, though engaging with parliamentary members of several SADC countries and through the Botswana media.
  3. They supported increased lobbying efforts of regional civil society groups, by using and disseminating evidence gathered in this project, resulting in:
    • The South African Department of Home Affairs in South Africa extending the number of days required for Zimbabweans seeking asylum;
    • Refugee International using the project's findings to express the gravity of the Zimbabwean situation to the United Nations and the SADC;
    • Churches in Mozambique working on a strategy to engage the faith-based community and the Mozambican government on the Zimbabwean situation; and
    • The Botswana Council of Churches lobbying their country for a 90-day renewable visa for Zimbabweans fleeing that country.

The Southern Africa Trust is now actively looking at funding poverty-alleviation projects in Zimbabwe.

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Want to donate via internet banking?
Here are the change4ever bank account details:

Bank: Standard Bank
Account: Change4ever Southern Africa Trust
Type: Current account
Acc/No: 062794175
Branch: Midrand (Code: 00 11 55)

Change4ever song to launch 2009 campaign

Remember USA for Africa's hit song ‘We are the World’ in the 1980's?
Well, get ready for a star-studded line up of top southern African musicians, who are teaming up on a 'Change4ever' song, which will launch the 2009 fundraising campaign in September!

Celebrity singers and media stars Lira, Stoan, Unathi and Lizha James are planning to collaborate on the creation of a hit song, which will blend smooth jazz with Afro-pop and hip-hop. All proceeds will go towards poverty-alleviation projects in the southern Africa region.

‘Mega’ group of Change4ever Ambassadors in the pipeline
A recently formed group of South African television personalities and musicians that helped raise funds for flood victims in KwaZulu Natal - met the Change4ever campaign team in April, with the idea of forming a mega-group of Southern African stars and celebrities who will raise funds to end poverty, all under the Southern Africa Trust's Change4ever brand.

This group includes actors who feature in soapies including Generations, Muvhango, Scandal and Rhythm City as well as local musicians.

Watch this space!

The floods in Namibia this year affected 20,000 people
The floods in Namibia this year affected 20,000 people

The Moringa Tree - one of nature's richest sources of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants

Packaged Moringa leaf powder
Packaged Moringa leaf powder

News from the Southern Africa Trust

Support for Namibian Flood Victims

The Southern Africa Trust gave US$6,000 to assist Namibian flood victims, in response to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies appeal for US$1,3million in emergency aid.

Incessant torrential rains in Namibia at the beginning of the year led to severe water logging and localized flooding, displacing more than 276,000 people in six northern regions of the country. Over 90 people drowned.

20,000 people were seriously affected. The flooding cut off access to many houses and caused extensive damage to roads and bridges, many of which were still being repaired from the 2008 flood damage. According to the Ministry of Education, 253 schools were affected with 159 completely closed, disrupting learning for approximately 97,000 children.

The Trust's support was used by the Red Cross for the provision of food, relief items, clean water, sanitation facilities and emergency health services.

‘Miracle’ Tree project reduces malnutrition and poverty in Limpopo

Sedikong sa Lerato - a Limpopo based and women led community organization is spearheading an innovative nutritional programme which is already reducing malnutrition and poverty amongst rural communities.

The Moringa tree (also known as the ‘miracle tree’) is an indigenous plant found throughout Africa, India and the Middle-East. For centuries, it has been used as a food source and also for medicinal purposes.

The Southern Africa Trust has partnered with Sedikong to roll-out a US$20,000 project to plant Moringa trees in households and educate communities, small-scale farmers, traditional leaders, municipalities and government departments on the nutritional values of the Moringa tree, as it holds great promise as a sustainable crop that can overcome poverty and hunger.

According to Mavis Mathabatha, founder of Sedikong, using the Moringa tree's products has already reduced malnutrition amongst the 350 orphaned and vulnerable children which the organization supports.

“Before we started, malnutrition was very prevalent,” she said. “But since we've started adding Moringa to the children's food, we've seen remarkable results - the children no longer suffer from malnutrition.”

She went on to say that thousands of rural community residents in Limpopo are living below the poverty line and the social welfare grants and pensions that particularly women and pensioners receive, are insufficient to cover essential food items such as meat and dairy products. “Many people only eat meat once a month - on the day they receive their grants or pension. This is not enough to survive and be healthy on.”

Moringa is one of the few plants on earth that contain all the essential amino acids required for human protein synthesis and is one of nature's richest sources of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. The nutritious leaves grow quickly and surprisingly, contain complete proteins which are rare in a plant.

Containing 8.5 times more protein than yoghurt, 16.5 times more calcium than milk, 15 times more potassium than bananas and 12 times more iron than spinach, it is little wonder Moringa has been dubbed 'miracle food'. Moringa trees are drought resistant and can be grown in a wide variety of poor soils. Nearly every part of the tree has beneficial properties and it is also proving an excellent source of animal feed for small-scale farmers.

In several developing countries, Moringa is used as a micro nutrient powder to fight indigenous diseases.

Click here to submit online or download entry forms

2009 Drivers of Change Awards

Drivers of Change 2009

Richard Mkandawire played a leading role in convincing African governments and the international community that Africa has the ability and political will to start a green revolution. He drove the adoption of NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme. The quiet yet determined resolve of this highly respected Malawian agricultural economist has a far reaching impact. It's driving lasting change for the benefit of poor people in many countries across the region, by transforming agricultural production.

Professor Mkandawire was named the 2008 Driver of Change in the individual category.

Nominations for the 2009 Drivers of Change Awards are now open. Nominate innovators and you will raise up a deserving individual, organization, government agency, or business as a leader in innovation to overcome poverty in southern Africa. That includes you!

Entries close on 10 July 2009. The winners will be announced on 29 October 2009 at a gala event in Johannesburg. Please contact Sudley Adams at Mail & Guardian on +27 11 250 7300 or +27 82 900 0776 or go to for more details and entry forms.

Please click here to submit online.
Please click here to download entry forms.

Who's been visiting?

Adam Habib and Stephen Friedman - University of Johannesburg

Sthandiwe Kgoroge - Black Bench Productions

Augustine Tawanda - SADC Informal Cross-Border Traders Platform

Events May - July 2009



Civil society dialogue with the Pan African Parliament 25 May 2009 Gallagher Estate, Midrand, South Africa
Panel discussion: Citizen's participation and Africa's Integration 25 May 2009 Gallagher Estate, Midrand, South Africa
Day of the African Child 16 June 2009  
Closing date for nominations of Drivers of Change Awards 10 July 2009  
Southern Africa Trust website home page
Southern Africa Trust website

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Lesego Thathane
Lesego Thathane

Meet the team

Lesego Thathane
Personal Assistant to the Executive Director

Lesego joined the Trust from the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI) where he worked as the Business Development Manager and Personal Assistant to the chief executive officer.

He is passionate about ideas! He believes ideas can change the world and that any great act began with an idea. Lesego is interested in reading about the lives of individuals who have left a positive mark on history, people like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi and Malcolm X.

Lesego plays tennis and has dreams of playing professionally. As a youth leader at Graceland Community Church, he is also passionate about developing youth. Lesego is a motivational speaker targeting youth in his local community.

Southern Africa Trust contact details

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International Business Gateway Park, 6th Road (off New Road),
Midrand, South Africa

T:  +27 11 318 1012
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Have you joined the Change4Ever campaign?

If not, here are 7 very good reasons why you should:
  1. The Southern Africa Trust belongs to Southern Africa - it's an independent, non-profit agency governed by trustees from southern Africa.
  2. We cannot continue to depend on overseas aid and the goodwill of people in other parts of the world to support efforts to overcome poverty in our part of the world - it's our collective responsibility as people of southern Africa to do this.
  3. The best way to overcome poverty is to address its underlying causes, not just its immediate symptoms - we work for lasting change, so you will be giving to a solution and not a problem.
  4. Overcoming poverty must be a collective effort - none of us have all the answers or all the resources to overcome poverty alone but by working together and pooling our support, we can make a bigger difference.
  5. We already have our core operational costs covered, so everything that you give will go to others who are working for lasting solutions to poverty.
  6. We manage finances in accordance with the strictest principles of good corporate governance, transparency, and accountability.
  7. Poverty is everyone's business. Get involved!

The Southern Africa Trust appreciates the support it has received from:

Trustees: Dr Vusi Gumede (SA), Mr Denis Kadima (DRC),  Rev Joseph Komakoma (Zambia), Dr Perks Ligoya (Malawi), Dr Reginald Matchaba-Hove (Zimbabwe), Ms Alice Mogwe (Botswana), Ms Paula Monjane (Mozambique), Ms Shirley Moulder (SA), Ms Lucy Muyoyeta (Zambia), Ms Riah Phiyega (SA), Dr Prakash Ratilal (Mozambique)


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