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On Friday 15 September 2017, leaders from various sectors including civil society, business and diplomatic missions accredited to Zimbabwe will converge at the Harare Gardens (behind the National Art Gallery) for the 3rd edition of theSpace event.

The event, running under the theme “Challenging Power”, will see various speakers unpack the meaning of power, its emerging forms and rhetoric such as the ‘them and us’ narratives as well as the role and function of social and societal institutions. The event is expected to stimulate debate on the different issues with a view to provide local solutions to problems affecting Zimbabweans. Conversations will cover a range of topics including Skills for the future, Zimbabwe’s Informal Economy, Zimbabwe an Opportunity and Challenging Power. Some of the high profile speakers lined up for the event include Dr. Tawanda Mutasa, Dr. Bernard Mueller, Mr. Deprose Muchena, McDonald Lewanika, H.E. Ambassador Philippe Van Damme (EU Mission Delegation to Zimbabwe) and H.E. Ambassador Catriona Laing (UK Embassy to Zimbabwe).

Parallel to the high level conversations, 20 Embassies will be showcasing education (self-paying and scholarship), business and cultural exchange opportunities for free.

At least 30 cartoonists will also contest for the top prize to be selected on the day based on the relevance of their work to the theme.

The event aims to create an intergenerational space for Zimbabweans to come up with innovative solutions and recommendations for Zimbabwe’s socio-economic challenged as envisioned in government policies and international declarations particularly Sustainable Development Goals.

theSpace is a social enterprise that use its convening power to organize not agonize, engage and not disengage and raise public awareness to address some of the most pressing generational challenges of our time. With a focus on the agency of young people, we work with young people and partner with public and private partners to build tools, agency, narratives and campaigns that turn great ideas shared through OUR debates, exchanges and art into sustained action that bring change and impact.

Our annual event, theSpace is an international platform organized annually and convened locally by young people as a national process to champion, prepare, shape and re-imagine Zimbabwe’s future. We achieve this through promoting intergenerational exchange of ideas between our elders and young people with the sole aim of harnessing youth power, agency and energy to unleash the most creative generational potential into nation building.

It has brought young Zimbabweans, the community of authentic thinkers, social entrepreneurs, the development community of practice, conveners, diplomats, government officials, academics; all committed to share their ideas to advance the prospect of re-imagining a Zimbabwe centered on the role and agency of this generation. It has since transformed from being a national into an international event.

Attendees are spoilt for choice during theSpace 3rd edition scheduled for this Friday-September 15 at Harare Gardens (behind National Gallery of Zimbabwe).

There are four places to be, Game Changers Bay, Network Bay, Inspiration Bay and Exhibition Bay. Here is a teaser of what to expect on the bays.

Game Changers Bay

Participant raising issues in one of the conversations

Participant raising issues in one of the conversations

This Bay really houses high level conversations that seek to locate and position Zimbabwe within the global discourse.  This year, the Game Changers Bay will offer a number of interesting sessions which will offer a much needed pause and reflection around what can be done to achieve inclusivity, reduce poverty and inequality. One panel will lead a discussion on Zimbabwe’s Informal Economy: Changing the terms for the conversation and engagement which is meant to define the sectors composition, nature, contribution, how it can be formalized without violence and how youths fit in the equation.

Another panel will speak on EU/Africa Relations-Skills for the Future, a topic that will unpack the capacity of Zimbabwe to provide an internationally competent workforce in the backdrop of various economic challenges that have left the education sector critically under-resourced. The session will also analyse the suitability of the new curriculum in molding a generation that can effectively contribute to sustainable development locally and globally. It will also seek to justify the need to have a

The one on one conversation with Dr. Tawanda Mutasah on Challenging Power is not to be missed. This will among other areas reflect on the notions of society power as embedded in patriarchy, religion or the church and human interaction.

The Inspiration Bay

Artists standing in front of their work

Artists standing in front of their work

Attending theSpace without visiting the Inspiration Bay would be like flying to Italy and not visiting Venice. The inspiration bay will give cartoonists space to show their artistic prowess through cartoons which depict notions of “Challenging power” in various sectors. At least 30 cartoonists will contest during this year’s edition and prizes include gadgets such as tablets and cash.

Exhibition Bay

Embassy of the United States of America sharing information with attendees

Embassy of the United States of America sharing information with attendees

Do you know the function and role of an Embassy or Diplomatic Missions? Here participants will be treated to a wide range of services provided by Embassies and Missions with diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe.  Embassies provide much needed information on a range of opportunities including education, business and cultural exchange programs. Youths who wish to shop for scholarships and self-funded enrolment in universities across the globe need to pass through this bay. Preceding editions have seen more than 6 000 students visiting this bay and more are expected to attend this year. Edrovale High school, Tynwald High and Harare international school are among the schools that have booked a place at theSpace 2017’s Exhibition Bay.

Networking Bay

Figure 4 Networking in the Garden

Networking in the Garden

Figure 5 Indonesians Preform in the Networking Bay

Indonesians Preform in the Networking Bay

The Networking Bay allows for ordinary citizens to network with decision makers, friends and strangers on a range of issues dear to them. The Harare Gardens offers this peace of mind amidst the bubbling environment during the day.

This coming Friday – 15th September 2017,  at the Harare Gardens (behind the National Gallery of Zimbabwe) theSpace 3rd edition will once again offer the nation a chance to pause for a much needed reflection on the urgency with which our generation finds its self. Themed Challenging Power, the annual convening will bring together young leaders, experts, businesses, government, academia and decision makers to posit solutions to currently global challenges within which Zimbabwe is located. The urgency within which we find ourselves at this defining historical moment will in part be responded to by these four topics which you should be part of,

  1. Skills for the future: For the youthful generation, this is the biggest challenge – less talked about. The last skills audit for Zimbabwe was done in the late 1980s, the advent of automation in particular and the fourth industrial revolution means that Zimbabwe can frame a future fit for Zimbabwe and a Zimbabwe fit for the future by forging and skilling a generation able and willing to contribute to a national cause.
  2. Zimbabwe’s Informal Economy: Is Popular Self-Organized Economy the New Economy? : The informal economy is diverse and complex, at least 80% to 94% of Zimbabweans participate in one form or the other in this ‘economy’. The concept of informal economy itself does not have a unitary construct, some studies focus on informal sector, informal employment, informal firms, informal entrepreneurship to name a few. We are also clear that, the informal economy will not be totally wiped off the face of Zimbabwean reality; rather we postulate that reversing its ratio to the ‘formal’ economy should help reshape and redefine the State-Citizen-Economy relationship. This debate will among three key areas unpack the meaning and implications of a dominant ‘informal economy’; its players, activities and its intersection with young people; proffer policy options for interrogating ‘formalization’/ transitioning without persecution. The second tier of the debate will look at the role and function of the State, and its institutional influence in allocating entrepreneurial resources between the informal and formal spheres of the economy.
  3. Challenging Power: In case you have not had the privilege of meeting Dr. Tawanda Mutasah, we think and strongly suggest that you make a date for this conversation. In modest terms, we challenge and entrench power every day. Sometimes we do not even know that we are doing either. If there is an iota of hope that convinces us of the urgency of the point in history that we find ourselves in today, then this conversation will allow us to re-shape the trajectory of our collective future through sharing knowledge and tools that would allow for social and economic transformation as envisioned in declarations (including the Sustainable Development Goals). This intergenerational debate will unpack the meaning of power, its emerging forms and rhetoric such as the ‘them and us’ narratives, the role and function of social and societal institutions.
  4. Zimbabwe-an Opportunity: This is a motion based debate. In 2013, Zimbabwe found itself in a place of excitement and optimism. One located within the whims of re-defining the course of human destination born out of the euphoria associated with the adoption of a new constitution. The energy and vibrancy of Zimbabwe epitomized by its young people, women, men and the diaspora make a strong case for the country’s trajectory. To fully realize and harness Zimbabwe’s potential, what steps should young people, business, diaspora and the international community take. The debate poses fundamental questions around strategic choices we need to make for our country. It seeks first and foremost to ascertain whether we see the same problems or challenges and aspire to the same future. How do we comprehend our location and probable role within the global village in general and our continent of Africa in particular? Have we taken enough steps to become investor friendly (both at domestic and foreign) this implies questions around the state of our infrastructure. Is our glass half full or half empty? This house believes that Zimbabwe is indeed an opportunity.

Dr. Tawanda Mutasah

Prominent human rights activists Tawanda Mutasah will this year grace theSpace 3rd Edition where he is expected to give a keynote address on ‘Challenging Power’. theSpace 3rd edition is scheduled on September 15 at Harare Gardens, in the capital.

The London based lawyer, administrator and human rights activist is expected to lead the conversation that will be mainly focusing on fight against inequality and poverty.

The conversation is expected to reshape the trajectory of ‘our collective future through sharing knowledge and tools that would allow for social and economic transformation as envisioned in Sustainable Development Goal’.

Dr Mutasah’s decision to attend theSpace 3rd edition will give the youths and ordinary people to interact with one of the country’s shining beacons.

Dr Tawanda Mutasah will this year grace theSpace 3rd Edition

Dr Tawanda Mutasah will this year grace theSpace 3rd Edition


Who is he?

Mutasah has had a trailblazing career which spans several decades.

He is Senior Director, International Law and Policy at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, the world’s leading human rights movement. Based in London, he heads the global movement’s formulation of human rights policies, and its interpretation and application of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.

He is also the Senior Leadership Team’s focal person for international advocacy, in which Amnesty systematically engages the United Nations as well as regional and other intergovernmental organisations; for strategic litigation, where the organisation uses courts and other adjudicative fora to advance and defend human rights; and for the human rights’ movement’s work against discrimination on internationally prohibited grounds including gender, race and caste.

Previously, Mutasah was Global Director of Programs for the Open Society Foundations (OSF), based at the foundations’ New York headquarters where he oversaw international thematic programs. Before that, Mutasah founded, led or served in a variety of legal, policy, advocacy, and democracy-building efforts, via a range of organisations and projects, including Oxfam GB, the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP), the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW), the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), and Impact Development Associates.

Mutasah has served as a board member for a number of organisations, including the Centre for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), and as a governor for the African Development Bank-supported Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA).

In his native Zimbabwe, having been appointed by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches as head of the ecumenical mission on justice and human rights issues (head of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Program) – at the age of 23. Mutasah spearheaded breakthrough outcomes that included the founding of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) as a broad-based constitutional advocacy platform. He also established ecumenical projects that mobilised energies in the churches across the country, in particular the projects on Economic Justice, Civic Education, and Legal Aid.

In his student days, Mutasah was elected into the office of Secretary-General of the University of Zimbabwe’s Student Union, and also as Vice-President of the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union. He survived persecution by the State as a result of his activism for justice, human rights, and democracy.

Dr. Tawanda Mutasah holds a Master of Management degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and law degrees from the law schools of the University of Zimbabwe (LL.B Hons), Harvard University (LL.M), and New York University (Doctor of Juridical Science).

He undertook his practical legal training at the High Court of Zimbabwe and at former Harare law firm DW Aitken & Partners. Mutasah is a recipient of the International Bar Association’s Rule of Law award. He teaches International Law at Sciences Po, Paris.

We use our convening power to organize not agonize, engage and not disengage and raise public awareness to address some of the most pressing generational challenges of our time. With a focus on the agency of young people, we work with young people and partner with public and private partners to build tools, agency, narratives and campaigns that turn great ideas shared through OUR debates, exchanges and art into sustained action that bring change and impact.

Young people interact with Japan Embassy and collect key information

Its systems go at the 3rd Edition of theSpace

Today we reflect around one of the key activities that make up theSpace – the Exhibition Bay

It is that time of the year again when more than 2000 students will have an opportunity to interact with at least 20 embassies and several UN agencies courtesy of theSpace. Held under the theme Challenging Power, the event which will be held on the 15th of September will be a golden opportunity for young people to interact with various embassies, UN agencies and influential people from the business world.

The annual event which has grown in leaps and bounds since its formation three years ago will be held at the Harare Gardens (behind National Gallery) where the embassies will run an exhibition to showcase scholarships, business opportunities and study opportunities on offer in their respective countries.

The organizers said the event is unique in that it will draw students and young people from all walks of life to have an appreciation of different countries sharing diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe.

“The exhibition is unique because we are targeting the youths. We are providing a rare opportunity for the youths to interact with the embassies. This is a way for the students from different walks of life to know different countries,” said Florence Mahwata, an administrator of the Exhibition Bay at theSpace Event.

Some of the schools that will be attending the 3rd edition include Eddrovale High from Masvingo, Tynwald High School and Harare International School, will also exhibit at colorful event.

Students from tertiary institutions that have confirmed their availability at the event include University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Open University and Women University of Zimbabwe.

Europe, Africa and America will be represented during the event.

According to the organisers, theSpace Event is an annual international platform with global aspirations organised locally by young people under “theSpace” as a national process with the sole purpose of re-imagining Zimbabwe’s future, influencing an inclusive society and shaping the discourse.

Aimed at harnessing youth power, agency and energy to unleash the most creative generational potential into nation building.  theSpace is an annual  event that has proved strong, creative and popular. The platform has become crucial for new ideas that have generated impact.

It has brought young Zimbabweans, the community of authentic thinkers, the development community of practice, conveners, diplomats, government officials, academics; all committed to share their ideas to advance the prospect of re-imagining a Zimbabwe centered on the role and agency of this generation.

Is Africa rising a case of delusions of grandeur? In the quest to become a beacon of humanity, has the continent been caught in the complexities of a history of abuse and exploitation? Historical experiences and psychological observations suggests that most victims of abuse become abusers themselves. How exactly someone wishes to inflict the pain they went through on others cannot be explained but the reason is that most victims have a sense of entitlement. They feel entitled to an apology and the pity of the world. In a victim’s mind is the idea that they have a valid reason for being that way without realizing that they are hurting others as well and have become no different from the perpetrators of abuse themselves. What makes us who we are is how we respond to challenges and hardships in life because nothing justifies violating other people’s right to live free from fear.

A casual look at Africa, the cradle of mankind, ravaged by violence and terrorism casts aspersions about whether this is the same continent where mankind is swaddled and salted. Are we living to the expectations of Nkwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Nelson Mandela and Joshua Nkomo, the vision of creating an African continent rich with opportunity, freedom and unity?  Africa as I know it, is a place full of colorful personalities; home to Ubuntu; diverse cultures, religions, languages and foods; rich in laughter, music and dance, wealth, determination courage and hope. That is what makes Africa home; that is what makes Africa the cradle of mankind and that is what makes Africa rise. Unfortunately we have taken all of that and used it to bring Africa down.

We have used diversity to divide us and create crevices that we have filled up with machetes, grenades and disrespect, with complete and utter disregard of our differences in opinion. In treating each other we have set up linguistic, cultural, tribal, religious and racial barriers. If we cannot share the wealth we run off to greener pastures and grow others’ wealth. Our laughter is chocked by the sounds of explosions from violent conflict hotspots across the continent.  African determination is emanating from courageous voices of innocent victims of civil bloodshed. They carry the hope of a brighter future, but how it can be bright if the struggle to become free is born of unforgiveness and rooted in bitterness?

What good is an angry, vengeful heart in position of leadership? Do we really want to blame maladministration and corruption for the death of Ubuntu in Africa? Do we want to blame ethnic divisions made worse by unfair, unequal division of resources and access?  Or do we want to look at the bigger picture? We are simply unable to respond to challenges and controversy in a way that promotes a healthy upward and forward progress. Instead, we have become a people who want it here and now. Generational wealth is built is like a rich forest, made possible by a generation of determined people who plant oak trees, nurtured by a generation that waters it, so that the next generation can enjoy the shade and have acorns to plant more trees.

By Tilda Magoba- I am a content contributor for theKatchUp a special news portal that curates topics (past and upcoming) from theSpace event, join us on the 15th of September 2017 for our 3rd edition as we ‘Challenge Power’. We would love for you to follow us on @thespacezw and like us on our facebook.com/thespacezw

Have you ever wondered why some people spend their entire life – say 10, 15 to 30 years doing the same job, in the same company or organization? Yes, 12 years doing the same routine of their current job description day in and day out (no promotion or change of duties). Never mind the number of deja vu’s s/he will have. In some cases a report that took you a week to write in your first year as Manager now takes just an hour. If you have wondered why, then you are not alone there are many people who have raised these questions and the debate around this will definitely continue. Whereas forward looking organizations have put in place term limits, they have internally realized that we are first and foremost human and our individual contribution in a particular role and function has a timeline.

Initially we wanted to share our internal thoughts on the matter but quickly realized that, the answers to our question would be grounded if we asked a random sample of 30 people working as Directors, Program Managers, Officers, security guards and secretaries in different organizations.  We asked them to provide five reasons why they think their fellow workers or them are still in the same position 10 years later. Please note, the question was open ended without a predefined list, here are top five reasons shared in figure 1 and we list them below;

  1. Comfort Zone: One of the 30 responders said, ‘they get too comfortable and start thinking they possess the organization.’ Another gave it a twist, ‘people get comfortable with perks/salary also extends to the ability of one knowing the twists and turns’, while another put is bluntly, ‘the person is looting company resources easily using his/her position’. Obviously the understanding of comfort zone varies and open to interpretation, what is clear is that one enjoys the current working routines – challenging or not, adding value or not unfortunately the employee’s level of investing in new ideas is compromised. The result is clogging of the system.
  2. Lack of ambition – We like to call these ones ‘Lame ducks’ – the lack of ambition or need to challenge self is driven by many factors. The first being flawed human resource models that recruit lame ducks, they start as if they are ending their term – first few years of interacting with them will unravel a façade that they are. The second major reason inferred by responders is that, employees that retire into their comfort zones have more or less accepted their fate and see no reason to grow. They now do their duties to get the next pay check, they no longer question decisions. They have virtually surrendered, they are no longer willing but that does not mean they are not able.
  3. Fear of the Unknown: One responder said,the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know’, another summarized it as ‘fear of letting go, this is linked to responsibilities such as having families to feed, children to send to school and look after so they will stay, ‘’one thing I know is if the person has family, it will be a big factor, they’ll consider – will I get another job’’. Fear of the unknown confirms that we are after all human and that we find comfort is taking less risks and yet to go far we are told to dream big and take risks.
  4. Unavailability of Opportunities: 90% of our responders cited, ‘the economy –stupid narrative’ which can be unpacked asunattractive offers in the market as a result people stay just for survival and not enjoying work, the company does not offer room for growth/promotion; unemployment very high’. Many working people want to change jobs but there are just not enough job opportunities to go around.
  5. Lack of Skills: the 21st century has not been kind to us, work as we knew it is changing every day (see our working paper of future of work in Zimbabwe). Skills acquired for years are now irrelevant out there. Many people with such skills and or jobs realize the redundancy of their skills and cling on even when it’s too late, they do nothing to upskill. One responder summarized it well, ‘you realize the job market demands have overtaken you (laughs) they have nowhere else to go because they are not equipped for any other post’.
  6. Bonus Ball >> Power: Whereas few responders mentionedloyalty/attractive package on current job for instance study leave, consultancy leave, Retirement benefits’, only 1% of our responders mentioned power. We wondered why – well we still wondering. While there are four major types of power, we think the exercise of power (including weirding power commonly referred to as power over) cuts across the top five reasons why people stay in their roles for years. We argue that, power that comes with any role especially power over makes many of us shiver at the prospects of losing our power (however one defines their power). Think about it, the power that organizational bureaucracies have, from the security guard that gives you an interview before you go through for your scheduled interview or appointment to the secretary that wants to know what you want to talk about and decide whether you go through or not, to the director who on a bad day feels they have to make your day miserable.


We obviously could not resist the bonus ball, because in our third edition, we are ‘challenging power’. Did we miss the mark or did we hit the bulls eye, let us know your five reasons people stay in one job position for more than 10 years @thespacezw While you at it, do follow us and make sure to diaries our third edition on the 15th of September 2017.

This Video is a direct output of the High Level debate convened by young Zimbabweans during the second edition of theSpace. Future of Work – How do we make sense of it in a country which has traditionally had a low labor absorption capacity and whose jobs are mainly found in the precarious terrain of the informal economy and subsistence agriculture? What are the driving forces for the future of work, and how do they affect Zimbabwe? What is our state of preparedness as Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans for this future, and what are the likely implications? to see full program visit www.thespace.co.zw follow us on @thespacezw