Recently Clingendael Academy travelled to Zimbabwe to support Zimbabwean trainers working for the Zimbabwean Council of Churches (ZCC). The ZCC is setting up dialogue processes between different tribal leaders, civil society organizations and church leaders. As part of this initiative the ZCC organizes training for key leaders of the different (ethnic) groups and organisations.
A three day dialogue workshop was held in which a Clingendael trainer guided the ZCC through discussions to help create a common understanding of what dialogue, mediation and negotiation entails and how to design these necessary processes.
During the first day the participants built some confidence together and talked about difficult issues that were important to them, such as atrocities from the past, economic hardship and how one looks at the other. This also set the ground for more in-depth talks about the necessity to include others. Through training exercises and lectures on the second and third day, the participants were able to get a grip on how to talk about such issues, how to overcome them and how to deal with deadlocks. The workshop allowed for the participants to feel more comfortable and empowered to talk about complex matters and reach some common ground. Ultimately, ZCC trainers should be able to do many more of these training sessions with Clingendael coaching.
A societal divide
Zimbabwe is going through turbulent years with big challenges at the national level. After four decades of rule, Mugabe was ousted by the military in 2017, and passed away in 2019. There was much hope for a change with new elections coming up in 2018. When Mugabe’s vice-president Mnangagwa obtained power in the elections in 2018, the opposition refused to recognize him as the legitimate winner. This shows the strong polarization in society. Parties’ positions have hardened and bridgebuilders have difficulty in overcoming structural societal divide.
The ZCC is working on setting up an inclusive national dialogue process in which people from different (ethnic) groups should be able to voice their grievances. Such a comprehensive dialogue should lead to reducing open hostilities and the creation of new ideas for cooperation together.
Training Insider Mediation worldwide
In 2016 Clingendael started to cooperate with the UNDP in identifying and training Insider Mediators across conflict-affected countries worldwide. Since then, Clingendael Academy has been training more than 120 Insider Mediators in the skills of setting up negotiation processes, mediation and the facilitation of dialogue. As part of this project, Clingendael trainers two groups of trainers in insider mediation. As it is quite a challenge to design an extended training programme on these conflict management skills, Clingendael provides some additional coaching and co-training in country, such as this mission to Zimbabwe.