The Zimbabwe Europe Network (ZEN) was launched in October 2008 to ensure that the EU and its member states stay engaged on Zimbabwe and that the perspectives and recommendations of Zimbabwean civil society shape its future policy decisions. This is done through more sustained, collective and unified efforts directed at the EU and its members states, to ensure progressive policies and actions on Zimbabwe, to maintain and scale up support for humanitarian assistance and to inform and influence EU and member states assistance for a post-crisis transformation and recovery process that is led by Zimbabweans.
ZEN is a network of European trade unions and civil society organisations, including secular, faith-based and developmental organizations as well as diaspora groups, with programmes of support and/or presence on the ground in Zimbabwe. The network seeks to bring the demands, views and aspirations of Zimbabwean civil society into European policy formulation on Zimbabwe. This is done through input from a national reference group of civil society organisations in Zimbabwe which is regularly consulted and acts as a resource base to inform ZEN policies. ZEN emphasizes that the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis must be led by Zimbabweans themselves.
ZEN strives for a coherent EU policy towards Zimbabwe across all institutions of the EU as well as member states. This is done though providing evidence-based research and indicators for assessing progress in the existing EU benchmarks linked to the special measures that underpin EU-Zimbabwean policy. Such research and indicators prevent premature EU funding that could undermine a genuine political settlement and also inform what kind of pressure should be directed and support should be provided to the people or the Government of Zimbabwe. ZEN provides information on EU policy to Zimbabwean civil society as feedback to input into their policy recommendations. By August 2009, ZEN had established a modest Brussels-based secretariat. ZEN does not envisage a long life span but will strive to continue operating only as long as it remains relevant and continues to add value to its members and partners in Europe and Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Europe Network through its member organisations, partners and the secretariat, seeks to contribute to the creation of a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe that respects human rights, international and regional treaties, and is committed to good governance, socio-economic development and the rule of law.
ZEN in solidarity with its partners in Zimbabwe, the Southern African region and Europe collaborate closely in defining the most pressing issues and actions in developing possible alternatives.
ZEN strives for a Zimbabwe, which:
ZEN calls for policy changes in Zimbabwe but does not support any political party or faction.
ZEN seeks to increase the coordination, impact and coherence of lobby and advocacy already undertaken, undertake research on new relevant areas and add an EU wide dimension to activities of members and partners.
ZEN aims to:
ZEN strives for a principled and coherent EU policy towards Zimbabwe across all institutions (Commission, Parliament, and Council) as well as in its national states. ZEN aims to ensure that any reconstruction programme has wide participation in the development and implementation phase from Zimbabweans themselves and is not imposed from above.
ZEN also aims at avoiding premature EU funding likely to undermine a genuine settlement and hence retard progress towards democracy and transformation. In short it will be ZEN’s task – particularly of the coordinator – to prepare (political) messaging for lobby based on well grounded information and coherent positions from research papers and input from Zimbabwean partners at EU level.
To achieve this ZEN will be in regular contact with the various policy officers and politicians active on Zimbabwe inside the EU Commission, EU Council and Parliament and – through its memberships – in the individual EU member states. ZEN further facilitates access to EU and member state institutions for members and Zimbabwean Civil Society. ZEN will organise appropriate activities for and between members, Zimbabwean partners and EU policy officers and politicians.
With an "open door" policy ZEN will function as the first port of call for Zimbabwean activists coming to Brussels and will contribute to streamlining their input at EU level. ZEN simultaneously encourages its partners in Zimbabwe to engage the local EU Delegation as well as with indivudial European Embassies to ensure Civil Society points of view are adequately taken into account. ZEN membership will also approach their respective Foreign Affairs / Development Ministries and Embassies to develop a common engagement of Zimbabwean Civil Society around benchmarks for reengagement, monitoring of the process and thematic focus areas.
ZEN will also feed into the Brussels-based faith, secular and specialised agencies and networks and will work to involve more NGOs from the European countries, as well as developing working relationships with civil society in the global South.
ZEN is building pro-active structured information exchanges amongst its members, the Zimbabwe reference group and expert organisations as well as Southern African organisations. Newsletters, updates and briefings on EU and Zimbabwe developments will be used as tools to strengthen the information exchanges.
This will promote dialogue and exchange between ZEN members in Europe (and broader civil society) and Zimbabwean Civil Society on a number of key issues, through initiation and production of discussion, research and briefing papers. The relevant information will be packaged for members and Zimbabwean Civil Society so that they can act quickly and with sound information, in relation to both specific and broader issues.
The coordinator interacts with the Zimbabwe reference group and key thematic organizations in order to get clarity on political positions and suggested actions from within Zimbabwe. ZEN will identify gaps in the available information on positions and political demands of the EU and other international and multilateral players (such as AU, UN, WB, IFI etc) and undertake or commission research to fill these gaps. ZEN will also prepare press releases and media packages for EU media and arrange interviews with relevant organizations and activists in Europe and Zimbabwe.
ZEN will provide evidence-based research to underpin its demands towards EU / European Zimbabwe policy, especially where Zimbabweans have time and resource constraints. To this end ZEN through its coordinator, membership, experts and its reference group in Zimbabwe will develop briefing papers and common positions. With partners in Zimbabwe it will develop timelines and technical indicators for benchmarking and collect information for assessing and measuring progress on benchmarks for donor reengagement with Zimbabwe. In particular it will contribute to the assessment of progress relating to the existing EU benchmarks linked to the special measures and the Cotonou Agreement, the Zanu PF and MDC "deal" and the "The Hague donor principles".
ZEN will act as a support secretariat for Zimbabwean organisations for these and other lobby issues if and when need be. ZEN will develop specific briefings on EU’s policy positions on macro-economic stabilization and economic alternatives; input for a new country strategy paper; coherence of EU policies on Zimbabwe (EPA/CSP etc.); how additional EU policies (can) relate to Zimbabwe (e.g. fragile states/ R2P) and presenting other policy issues such as demobilization of militia, return of diaspora to show their relevance to EU programmes and priorities.
ZEN through its membership will look at developing alternatives to the current political impasse as well as critical thematic inputs and reactions to donor programs. These will be brought in the policy development and formulation process at EU and other fora at the appropriate time and level. ZEN will also demand specific EU initiatives and actions such as calls for actions by key international & multilateral players and African states (e.g. assessments, political actions etc) including especially the UN Human Rights Council, the Security Council, the African Union and SADC.