Since its inception in 1999, the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) has been instrumental in the promotion of peace, democracy and development through its various interventions within the areas of human rights, conflict resolution, decentralization and promotion of free and fair elections. The theme of the 2014-2018 strategic plan is dubbed “Consolidating 13 years of Peace-building in Zambia and the sub-region through the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights” and this resonates very well with these interventions which the organization hopes to build upon as they have proved beyond reasonable doubt that they are pillars upon which peace is anchored and remain very relevant to the needs of the people. SACCORD has been undertaking peace-building work for the past 13 years and evidence shows that there is still a lot more that needs to be done in order for Zambia and the sub-region to be peaceful. Peace is anchored on stable economic, political and social performances, however, political, economic and social dynamics are constantly changing locally, regionally and globally and sometimes these changes affect the communities negatively presenting new challenges and problems. These gross challenges and problems that have continued to be evidenced necessitate the need for SACCORD to continue its work even at a more scaled up level with increased innovation and dynamism. SACCORD is looking forward to the next five years as the organization continues to consolidate what has been done in the last 13 years and scale up its contribution to peace both in terms of quality and impact.
During its 13 years of existence, SACCORD has achieved a number of milestones and various notable success stories under the previous 2010-2013 strategic plans. These are clearly categorized according to the four key programme areas of the organization, namely: Peace-building and Conflict Management (PACM); Accountability and Good Governance (AGOGO); Human Rights and Elections (HRE) and Institutional and Capacity Building (ICBG). Some of the key success stories and milestones achieved include:
- Influenced Members of Parliament (MPs) to sign a petition in 2012 for Zambia to vote in favor of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). SACCORD engaged the MPs and they committed themselves to signing the petition. This was during the 2012 conference held to decide on the coming into existence of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), an instrument identified as important for the maintenance of peace and security. Subsequently, the Treaty was signed on 3rd June 2013 and Zambia signed it in September 2013. This was a one of the milestone achievements that SACCORD can attest to as the organisation within Zambia was the only one making interventions around that area.
- SACCORD formulated a 2011 violence index which helped monitor potential areas of violence and largely contributed to the peaceful transfer of power from the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) to the Patriotic Front (PF). The violence index gave prior information on the anticipated violence spots which alerted the Electoral Commission Zambia (ECZ) and police to put up preventive mechanisms and be on alert for any violence during elections
- SACCORD was elected Chair for the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) Programme on Peace and Security (CPPS) making it a strategic stakeholder in fostering peace within the region. The organisation has since been able to influence regional interventions by COMESA and other CSOs in the region around the area of peace and security by devising programmes as chair of the programme on peace and security.
- Through its advocacy work, SACCORD contributed to the adoption of the Decentralization Implementation Plan (DIP) by cabinet at the end of 2009. The decentralization plan needed to be adopted by cabinet to enable implementation of the policy. Therefore its adoption was critical to kick starting any implementation of the decentralization policy but that could not be possible in the absence of cabinet adopting the policy.
- SACCORD has been instrumental in influencing the Government to work with CSOs over human rights such as observance of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This resulted in SACCORD’s contribution to Government’s decision to adopt recommendations on second generation rights such as the right to health and education among others. These rights are being considered in the draft Constitution so that they are made justiciable.
- SACCORD submitted areas of revision over the Electoral Code of Conduct before the National Assembly of Zambia which contributed to the revision and bringing into being the revised Electoral Code of Conduct 2011.
- Through its work on the Public Order Act stretching as far as 2002, SACCORD contributed to the fair administration of the Public Order Act which resulted in reduced violation of the freedoms to assembly, association and expressions in 2011 because the government eventually enabled the police to decentralize decision making in the policing of processions to the district level. This is something SACCORD had been advocating for.
- SACCORD has built its credibility and is a proven source of information for research and generally the body of knowledge and a number of reputable institutions and individuals both locally and internationally seek information from the organisation. This has enabled the organisation to become a strategic source of information for scholars as far as Japan and United States of America. This information includes democracy, peace and human rights.
- Alongside the Human Rights Commission, SACCORD is among the few organizations in Zambia that has been able to establish and manage Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Centres (HRCRCs) centers that provide advice and help on human rights issues. This has been very positive on the communities as it has provided an avenue for them to seek guidance on human rights issues such as defilement, torture, police brutality and other violations.
- To date SACCORD remains among the few if not the only organisation to provide an election violence watch system which enabled citizens to alert stakeholders such as the ECZ and Police on various malpractices and violence during the 2011 elections and this helped avert any malpractices and violence.
- SACCORD is currently among the few local organisations in Zambia that provides human rights status reports and also has human rights monitoring centers which collect information on various human rights violations.
These achievements are very unique and mean a lot to society currently full of unending political, economic and social challenges and problems. SACCORD’s existence and growth in the last 13 years has been necessitated by the organization’s relevance in tackling these aspects as they contribute to peace at national and regional level. Without the impact of its work, SACCORD would not have continued to exist. These achievements speak volumes of the importance of the organization’s niche in contributing to peace-building. There are a number of interventions that SACCORD has made which seem to be distant from conflict interventions at first instance and yet upon critical analysis these are all linked to peace and co-existence. In essence, the organization values any aspects that can contribute to the bigger picture of peace building and coexistence and this is why the organization makes interventions not only on actual conflict situations but also on other situations that promote peace and enable people to co-exist. Today SACCORD is recognized not only as a conflict resolution organization but as well as a key promoter of democracy, development and human rights because these aspects necessitate peace and stability. SACCORD’s work stretches from the community, national, and regional level to the global level as these efforts are intended to eventually build peace.
Since independence, it has been proven that there have been no armed conflicts in Zambia. However the nation is experiencing other equally devastating forces politically, economically and socially that can cause conflicts and need to be acknowledged by both rights holders and duty bearers before they can be dealt with. This starts with individual changes in perception and change in attitudes towards conflicts by all citizens including key actors.
Zambia’s poverty levels, Gini Co-efficient and human development index, all point to a society in which wealth is very unevenly distributed. The Annual Progress Report (2012) on the implementation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reveals that despite important strides in sectors like health and education, the country is well behind in achieving the targets of 2015. All these problems highlighted are clearly a recipe for discontent which has potential to cause instability and political unrest. Increasingly the demand for better service delivery by citizens from government and its institutions is creating a realization that the duty bearers have a much more demanding responsibility to provide important basics needs thus the aspect of citizens being able to claim their rights and demand for accountability becomes very significant.
The electoral victory of the PF in 2011 has been dogged by heightened conflicts emanating from the manner in which the new Government has handled contentious political and economic issues. These have included the inability to conclusively and amicably resolve the Barotseland Agreement, harassment of leaders of opposition political parties, unfair administration of the Public Order Act, inducement of opposition MPs to defect to the ruling party, electoral violence that has claimed several lives and persistent abuse of public resources by the ruling party during campaigns for by-elections. There is also uncertainty regarding the conclusion of the protracted Constitutional making process. From the economic front, there has been contestation on the removal of subsidies on fuel and maize. These are critical issues that have potential to cause conflicts.
Failure to resolve these and many other similar issues can result in deterioration of the political environment and precipitate conflicts. The absence of inter-party and intra-party dialogue makes this possibility real. Government needs to exert more effort towards improving the human development conditions and guarantee human security to prevent disenchantment and a discontented population that has potential to be easily taken advantage of to rise against established authority. The issues raised above focus mainly on the need for functional institutions at both local and national level (formal – the Government system and informal – the traditional system).
SACCORD continues to have a regional focus which is premised on the assumption that Zambia’s peace is interlinked to that of the region. As such, interventions are targeted at Zambia’s immediate neighbors through the work being done by the Action Groups, but also at the whole region through the advocacy and networking initiatives being done through the regional economic communities and other such fora.
With the context as described above, the SACCORD Theory of Change (ToC) is premised on looking at both preventing conflicts and mitigating conflicts where they exist. In preventing conflict, SACCORD believes there is need to identify core grievances which are the perception, by various groups in a society, that their needs for physical security, livelihood, interests or values are threatened by one or more other groups and/or social institutions. SACCORD also notes that there are windows of vulnerability and are moments when events threaten to rapidly and fundamentally change the balance of political or economic power. Elections, devolution of power and legislative changes are examples of possible windows of vulnerability. As such, the theory of change combines three core conflict theories:
- Changing attitudes towards peace at both local and national level and by both rights bearers and duty bearers and in the same vein shifting consciousness so that individual commitment and capacity for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and for resisting mobilization is strengthened.
- Functioning systems and institutions, institutional performance in this case considers formal (e.g., governments, legal systems and economic institutions) and informal (e.g., traditional mechanisms for resolving disputes, family, clan/tribe) social structures that are performing well and contribute to conflict management and/or mitigation.
- Resources of war, the availability of small arms as well as cluster munitions in Zambia particularly at border districts is reduced.
The 2014-2018 strategic plan builds upon the good work that SACCORD has been doing in the past years since its existence and there is hope that with the level to which the organization has grown, where a number of structures and policies have been put in place, the organization will be able to successfully implement important activities that will transform and impact positively on the lives of the people. This will largely depend on the improved SACCORD structures and these structures include the Board, Secretariat headed by the Executive Director and supported by Accounts, Administration and Programmes Department, the Provincial and Constituency Co-ordinators in Zambia, Regional Co-ordinators in the sub-region and the lowest structures of SACCORD namely, the Community Action Groups (AGs) charged with the responsibility of implementing community activities on behalf of the Secretariat. The AGs are complemented by the Human Rights and Conflict Resolutions Centres (HRCRCs) which are headed by full time staff in various districts of the country.
The 2014-2018 SACCORD strategic plan contains SACCORD’s four key programmes whose aim is to contribute to the promotion of peace and democracy in Zambia and the Southern African region. These programmes are: 1) Peacebuilding Programme (PP), 2) Accountability and Good Governance (AGOGO) Programme, 3) Human Rights and Access to Justice Programme (HRAJP), and 4) Organization Capacity and Development Programme (OCDP).
Under these thematic programmes, SACCORD will also implement a number of activities around areas of decentralization, human rights monitoring, torture, monitoring mines, promotion of dialogue, budget tracking, promotion of freedoms of rights to assembly and association, constitution awareness and election activities among others. The plan will utilize the following implementation strategies to achieve its impact: lobbying and advocacy, research, strategic networking with regional economic bodies, development of peace building mechanisms and tools, training for action groups, media engagement, policy engagement at the local, national and regional levels, withdrawal of resources of war (small arms in the districts) and monitoring of the elimination of cluster ammunitions especially at the border points, human rights monitoring and documentation among others.