On the 18th and 19th of November 2013, the directors of the three Zimbabwean partners of EPD visited Brussels for advocacy and knowledge sharing meetings. The organisations are partners of EPD in the Press Freedom 2.0 programme. All three organisations – Civic Education Network Trust (CIVNET), Youth Agenda Trust (YAT) and the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) – are working on a project to enhance citizens awareness of the new Zimbabwean Constitution.
In Brussels, we accompanied our colleagues from Zimbabwe to meetings with representatives from the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Development Cooperation Directorate of the European Commission and representatives from the European Parliament. The main objective of the meetings was to introduce the project they are carrying out with EPD and to discuss the current political situation in Zimbabwe. Through exchanges like these, knowledge is shared between the implementers and the donors of programs on democracy assistance thus improving the identification of the needs of the organisations on the ground.
Following the meetings in Brussels, the directors of the three Zimbabwean partners of EPD visited The Hague. The day started with a meeting at the office of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) with representatives from NIMD, Zimbabwe Watch and Vula consultancy. The Zimbabwean organisations each presented their own project and EPD emphasised the knowledge sharing purpose of the visit. The presentations triggered many questions about the difficulties that civil society organisations face under the current Zimbabwean regime. The meeting ended with a discussion about the current political situation in Zimbabwe, European engagement with the government, and an outlook towards the future of the country.
The second meeting was at the Dutch MFA. The Dutch government funds the Press Freedom 2.0 project through the MFS II instrument. The Dutch MFA highlighted the importance of the grassroots work that the organisations are doing in Zimbabwe and expressed hope that they would be able to continue to support these projects in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean organisations voiced their gratitude for the funding but also underlined the need for funding after 2015 when the current MFS II instrument ends.