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Against the Odds

A History of Zimbabwe Project

Mary Ndlovu

Publication Year: 2012

1978: In Rhodesia, the Internal Settlement led to the creation of a coalition government. Smith had, however, neither capitulated nor abandoned his belief in white superiority, and thousands of people fled across the countryís borders.In England, a group of missionaries, supported by the Catholic Institute for International Relations, formed a steering group that was to become the Zimbabwe Project. Originally an educational fund to support exiled young Zimbabweans, it shifted focus toward humanitarian assistance to refugees in the region.1981: The Zimbabwe Project Trust, a child of the war, came home, and its director, Judith Todd, started mapping the route that it would follow for the next thirty years.ZimPro ñ as it came to be known ñ began its work with ex-combatants, assisting with their education, skills training and co-operative development, and producing a news bulletin. In terms of funding, courage, and creative programming, it became a giant in the countryís development landscape, but it has had to negotiate many political, financial and philosophical minefields on the way. Against The Odds offers a rare insight into workings of an NGO on the frontline. With a cast of larger-than-life characters, it also offers a drama of Zimbabweís first thirty years and provides insights and lessons which will benefit everyone concerned with development, and provide historians with another important lens through which to view the past.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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About the Author

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pp. v


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pp. vii-viii

List of Acronyms

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pp. ix-x

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A Note on Sources

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pp. xi-xiv

This history of Zimbabwe Project has been written primarily from material emanating from within the organisation. The written documents include organisational correspondence, annual reports, evaluation reports...

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pp. xv-xvi

The current ZimPro Board of Trustees decided there was merit in exploring the organisation’s origins and examining the projects with which it was first involved to see how this history relates to the work now being done Zimpro...

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1. Genesis, 1978

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pp. 1-8

Like so much else in post-independence Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Project Trust1 owes its genesis to the protracted war of liberation waged from the mid 1960s until 1979. The wartime experiences of many clerics and missionaries...

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2. Sojourn in London, 1978–1981

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pp. 9-28

Years later, towards the end of the 1990s, when the development field was flooded with NGOs, many directors found themselves pressured to identify their ‘niches’ in order to persuade donors that their organisations...

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3. Mobilising the Demobilised – 1981: Defining a role in Zimbabwe

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pp. 29-40

Barely a week after the critical management meeting which authorised the move to Salisbury, Judith Todd was on the plane to begin what became ZimPro’s 30 years of activity within Zimbabwe. Could any other individual have...

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4. Co-operatives Venture 1981–82: Embracing the co-operative ideal

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pp. 41-53

By the end of 1981, besides having a staggering array of promising activities under way, ZimPro had also become thoroughly wedded to the co-operative programme. Where did this commitment originate? Was it an ideological position, or was it...

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5. Retaining Independence from Government, 1983

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pp. 54-72

There were, however, some darker clouds that were gathering, portending a storm ahead which was to threaten the very existence of Zimbabwe Project. As long as the two liberation movements operated from outside Zimbabwe...

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6. Fallout – 1983: Governance

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pp. 73-82

The remarkable series of events presented in the preceding chapter constituted a struggle for control of Zimbabwe Project. Such a conflict inevitably involves issues of governance. If an organisation does not have strong and appropriate...

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7. Searching for a Way Forward, 1983–1984

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pp. 83-96

By the end of 1983, ZimPro had succeeded in establishing itself firmly in Zimbabwe and had survived an assault on its independence. Its programme of assisting co-operatives formed by ex-combatants was well formulated...

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8. Becoming a Bureaucracy, 1984–1985

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pp. 97-108

The development and expansion of ZimPro’s programmes after 1984 was matched by changes in the philosophical foundation as well as the structures and practices of the organisation. When Judith Todd’s leadership of ZimPro came under attack...

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9. Education and Training, 1983–1990

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pp. 109-127

The three-year plan described the work of Zimbabwe Project as mediatory and service provision. This was nothing new, and simply described what had been going on since 1981, with education and training being one of the major services...

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10. The Second Pillar – Providing Finance, 1981–1990

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pp. 128-143

As Zimbabwe Project continued to consolidate, create structures, define procedures and gradually transform its identity, co-operatives continued to struggle along, some succeeding in establishing themselves and others falling...

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11. Political Unity Brings Changes, 1988–1991

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pp. 144-152

At the end of 1987, ZimPro’s work was greatly facilitated by a major event in the political life of Zimbabwe. At the end of the year, ZAPU succumbed to ZANU’s use of force and joined with them in a new, united ZANU-PF. Never mind...

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12. Funding and Funders, 1986–1990

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pp. 153-160

Judith Todd had been a successful fund-raiser over the years, building up trust and confidence in the Zimbabwe Project and its staff. She had a gift for developing and cultivating relationships with donors, who often became friends, and retaining...

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13. The ‘October Revolution’, 1989–1991

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pp. 161-172

By 1989, Zimbabwe Project had developed into a budding bureaucracy with a soul and had, a year earlier, successfully managed a change of leadership without any apparent hitch. Adjustments had been made to the loan fund that enabled...

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14. Implementing Change, 1991–1993

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pp. 173-192

Zimbabwe Project settled into a three-year cycle of planning followed by implementation and then evaluation. In 1991 a second proposal was submitted to the EC for co-financing by Oxfam, Novib and Christian Aid. This time Novib, rather...

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15. Riding Many Tigers 1993–1996: The new three-year plan

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pp. 193-206

The evaluation of 1992 did inform the programmes for the coming years, and is clearly reflected in the 1993–96 plan. No major change of direction was contemplated, rather ZimPro would continue what it had been doing...

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16. Advocating for Change,At the October 1989 retreat it was decided that Zimbabwe Project must become more involved in advocating for policies that would assist the marginalised in creating secure livelihoods. After the introduction of ESAP in the follow

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pp. 207-219

At the October 1989 retreat it was decided that Zimbabwe Project must become more involved in advocating for policies that would assist the marginalised in creating secure livelihoods. After the introduction of ESAP in the following...

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17. Exploring New Territory – Can an NGO Generate its own Income? 1990–1995

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pp. 220-229

When ZimPro resolved during the ‘October Revolution’ to become self-reliant by generating its own income, it was probably unaware of the rocky road it was to travel. Making money was no easier for ZimPro than it was for the...

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18. The Sky is Falling, 1993–1996

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pp. 230-246

There had been a lot of hard work, and many problems, in trying to implement the 1993–96 plan, particularly the investment programmes, and ZimPro’s management might have hoped for positive progress. But dangers were lurking, as a cooling...

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19. Can ZimPro Hold Up the Sky? 1997

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pp. 247-264

By early 1997 ZimPro was beginning to look like a different organisation. The senior staff recruited in 1996 were making a remarkable difference to the efficiency levels of the organisation, taking it in a more professional....

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20. Finding a New Direction, 1998–1999

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pp. 265-282

1998 was to be a difficult year. There was rising turmoil throughout the country, stemming from the war vets’ payouts of the year before, the consequent rapid drop in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar, and food riots and the resurgence...

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21. Crisis – the Trustees Awaken 1999–2000: Mavimbela’s report

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pp. 283-298

The evaluation scheduled for the end of 1998 was to be the ultimate decider regarding Novib funding for the Core and the land resettlement programme. This time Novib engaged a single consultant based in South Africa who had experience of...

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22. Difficult Transition Years, 2001–2003

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pp. 299-320

Su Hove took over as substantive director in 2001, after acting for nearly a year. It was a near impossible task she bravely shouldered; not only were ZimPro’s finances still in a parlous state, the whole country was in turmoil...

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23. Income-Generation, 1996–2007

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pp. 321-332

We left the activities of Octrev and the whole investment portfolio in the late 1990s, with Inyathi Valley operating but problematic, Madeira and Newlands still gobbling up money but producing no income for ZimPro, and only Trust Academy...

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24. New Realities, 2003–2004

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pp. 333-350

Like Su Hove before him, Tobias Chipare took on a daunting responsibility in 2003. An unassuming, quiet person, he took charge of the organisation at a time when major shifts were becoming evident in the provision...

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25. Hanging On, 2005–2007

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pp. 351-366

The new board recruited by Tobias Chipare was full of enthusiasm and energy and represented a variety of backgrounds and interests – business, tertiary education, human resources, health and finance, for example. On balance, though, the members had....

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26. Surviving the Present, Looking to the Future

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pp. 367-388

By the end of 2007, the strategic plan devised in 2004 had run its course. It had been necessary to make many alterations in order to meet the ongoing emergencies, and a new plan would have to take account of the need to allow...


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pp. 389-391


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pp. 392-403

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781779221766
Print-ISBN-13: 9781779221681

Page Count: 420
Publication Year: 2012