Zimbabwe—Transparency, Responsiveness, Accountability, and Citizen Engagement (TRACE)

Client: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Duration: 2014-2022

Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

Country: Zimbabwe

Solutions: Governance Fragile States

Now might be the time for Zimbabwe to improve on its record of access to justice, human rights, and responsiveness to citizens’ needs. A constitution approved by referendum and parliament in 2013 provides a framework around which civil society can advocate for change. It includes a Bill of Rights and elements so the country can decentralize through the establishment of provincial councils. Similarly, the stated aim of Zimbabwe’s new Economic Development Plan (ZIMASET, 2013-2018) is “towards an empowered society and growing economy.”

But the relationship between the ruling party and civil society is highly polarized: civil society organisations (CSOs) such as the media, trade unions, and student and neighborhood groups are accused of being political and self-serving, particularly those dealing with governance, electoral processes, and human rights issues. Any program seeking to support CSOs will have to contend with this soured relationship.

TRACE seeks to design, build, and implement a civil society support program where the CSOs look at government in a less adversarial way and forge relationships to promote constructive dialogue and partnership. The ultimate aim is to empower citizens to hold the Zimbabwean state to account for its use of resources and its respect for human rights and democratic principles. This is to be achieved by enabling CSOs to work in more innovative, flexible, and collective ways to identify and focus on tractable issues in five TRACE priority themes: access to justice, human rights, electoral reform, access to information, and service delivery.

TRACE Participants at a mobile legal clinic (pic Credit Mafunda ZLHR).jpg

Sample Activities

  • Manage the program Secretariat, including the design and implementation of grant windows and grants to capable, qualified awardees.
  • Oversee contracting, monitoring and evaluation, coordination, and dissemination of lessons learned.
  • With partner Jimat Development Consultants of Zimbabwe, identify, contract, and manage mentors and other Zimbabwean technical experts.

Select Results

  • TRACE partners had provided legal support that benefited over 250,000 citizens by the end of December 2021, significantly exceeding its cumulative milestone of 130,000. Approximately 40 percent of the support provided was for direct beneficiaries, with the remainder standing to benefit indirectly.
  • Over 60 percent of beneficiaries were women, and maintenance, inheritance and property rights, divorce, and protection orders (from gender-based violence) accounted for most cases.
  • The project raised civic awareness on topics such as people with disabilities, social inclusion, constitutional amendments, human rights, mineral revenue transparency, and electoral matters.


Malawi—Support to the Malawian Revenue Authority (MRA)

DAI was awarded the Malawian Revenue Authority (MRA) IrishAid project to help the MRA improve its organizational leadership. The objectives are to improve change management and provide capacity-building for 21 leaders in the Executive Committee of MRA. The training will be delivered over an 8-month period, utilizing in-person and virtual techniques, and effective leadership tools such as surveys. Additionally, DAI will deliver a follow-on survey for MRA personnel, and conduct workshops on the results to accelerate effective and continual change in the organization.

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