Silveira House, Jesuit Social Justice and Development Centre is a Catholic Church based organisation named after the first Jesuit priest to come to Zimbabwe in the 16th century (Gonzales da Silveira). It was founded in 1964 by Fr John Dove SJ. In its early years, the Centre provided a forum for discussions of strategies to counteract the social and political oppression of the racist Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith.
After Zimbabwean Independence in 1980, Silveira House focused more on civic education, to promote the participation of Africans who had been historically excluded from the political and economic system of the country. It also started various projects on skills training, sustainable agriculture, trade unionism and community development.
In the early 2000s Zimbabwe faced a notable collapse of the economic, social and political situation which led to:
In response to this situation, Silveira House initiated Peace Building projects, Advocacy and Lobbying projects, and strengthened its Civics Education projects as well as Vocational Skills Training projects.
Silveira House is a credible institution that has enjoyed a good name and reputation spanning 47 years. This background has often seen Silveira House gaining access to some places and groups which other civil society organisations are not able to reach in our current sensitive political environment.
Fr Gibson Munyoro SJ, Director of Silveira House
Fr Provincial Stephen Buckland SJ and former Director Fr David Harold-Barry SJ in background
Research and socio-economic & political analysis are rapidly becoming the backbone of Silveira House's work – these are vital tools in identifying the problems affecting different communities. This research and analysis programme focuses on gathering facts and concrete evidence of the situation on the ground.Today, Silveira House continues to explore effective ways of addressing challenging structures and practices that undermine justice, peace and development in Zimbabwe.
Based on such information, we seek to influence centres of decision making and structures of power. At the same time, the results of this research form the basis of designing Silveira House programmes seeking to address very specific problems and needs.
Although the economic situation in Zimbabwe has improved in the past two years, the political and social situation in this country is still worrisome. We still have many people living in fear; there are high levels of unemployment, poor social services, and a general uncertainty about the future.
In this context, Silveira House’s commitment to the promotion of social justice, peace and development is more relevant than ever; and even more so during the current transitional political phase of the Government of National Unity, as the nation struggles to move towards democracy, peace and economic development.