Why we exist

The Institute is a strategic response to the multi-faceted social, economic, political and ecological crises facing post-colonial societies (primarily in Southern Africa).

Since the end of colonialism and Apartheid, all these societies have witnessed the hollowing of democratic institutions, violations of basic human rights, disabled popular movements, rule by self-interested political elites using their power for their own private benefit, untransformed economies that have not fundamentally changed the socio-economic conditions of the majority, worsening underdevelopment and inequality, the continued marginalisation and oppression of women and other social strata (such as LGBTQIA+ communities), the use of state violence and repression for social control, and the emergence of alliances and relations that connect political elites with conservative religious forces, tribal chiefly elites, other traditionalist fundamentalists, and private businesses.

Alongside these negative features, these societies have also seen the emergence of popular movements and civil society voices, initiatives, self-organisation and alternatives that seek to mobilise the mass of ordinary people for progressive social, economic and political change, and in response to ecological crises.

But these have remained focused on their immediate, here-and-now single-issue struggles with insufficient attention paid to structural transformation, broader alliances and solidarity, and the need for longer-term strategies.

To solve these crises, strategic action is required. The Zabalaza Pathways Institute is one such strategic initiative offering a bold programme of action to enable ordinary people to consolidate and harness their fears, frustrations, desires and hopes into transformative action to address these crises.

As the Zabalaza Pathways Institute, we believe that it is primarily through catalysing, strengthening and sustaining a critical mass and the momentum of bottom-up grassroots people’s self-agency and organisation that Southern African societies can sustainably address the crises they face.

Further, we also believe that organised, democratic, vibrant and mass-based formations of marginalised communities and workers must collectively shift from short-term, single-issue strategies towards long-term transformative strategies to win universal, thorough-going change. The Institute works to facilitate a shift towards this strategic orientation amongst a diversity of community and worker organisations and movements.