Gift Ostallos Siziba Biography: Early Life | Education | Political Career | Activism | Achievements
Gift Ostallos Siziba is a Zimbabwean political activist and a former student leader. He is currently the National Deputy Spokesperson of the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC).
He is also one of the founding members of the #Tajamuka/Sesjikile Campaign, a social movement that mobilised citizens to protest against corruption, human rights violations, and economic mismanagement by the government.
Gift Ostallos Siziba Early Life and Education
Gift Siziba was born in Zimbabwe and attended various schools in the country. He developed an interest in politics and activism at a young age, inspired by his father who was a trade unionist and a member of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
He joined the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) when he enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe, where he studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in International Relations.
He became the Student Representative Council (SRC) president of the university in 2015, leading several student demonstrations against tuition fee hikes, poor living conditions, and academic freedom.
Gift Ostallos Siziba Political Career and Activism
After graduating from the university, Siziba joined the Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ) as the public relations officer in 2016. He also became the secretary-general of the MDC Youth Assembly, the youth wing of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe.
He was involved in organising and participating in various protests and campaigns to demand electoral reforms, constitutional amendments, and accountability from the government. He also advocated for the rights and welfare of rural teachers, students, and communities.
Siziba was one of the key figures behind the formation of the #Tajamuka/Sesjikile Campaign in 2016. The campaign aimed to mobilize citizens to engage in civil disobedience and peaceful resistance against the ruling party, ZANU-PF, and its then-leader, Robert Mugabe.
The campaign used social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to coordinate mass actions such as stay-aways, marches, petitions, and boycotts. The campaign also collaborated with other civil society groups, trade unions, churches, and opposition parties to form a united front against the regime.
After the formation of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in 2022, Siziba became the National Deputy Spokesperson of the part.
Challenges and Controversies
Siziba has faced several challenges and controversies in his political career and activism. He has been arrested, detained, tortured, abducted, and charged with various offences by state security agents and the police on several occasions.
In August 2016, he was abducted by suspected state agents during an electoral reform march in Harare. He was taken to the ZANU-PF headquarters where he was brutally beaten and later dumped at a police station and transferred to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. He was denied bail by a magistrate but later released by a High Court judge after spending more than a month in custody.
In July 2019, he was detained on charges of incitement to commit public violence after he allegedly made remarks at a rally in Glen Norah in Harare. He was summoned to Harare Central Police Station where he was interrogated and refused to be released into his lawyers’ custody pending his appearance in court.
In June 2023, he was disqualified from contesting as a parliamentary candidate for Bulawayo South constituency by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The ZEC claimed that he failed to submit his nomination papers on time due to technical glitches at their offices.
Achievements and Recognition
Despite the challenges and controversies, Siziba has also achieved some recognition and appreciation for his political career and activism. Some of his achievements are:
- He was awarded the Student Activist of the Year award by ZINASU in 2015 for his leadership role in defending students’ rights and interests.
- He was nominated for the Outstanding Youth Activist award by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) in 2016 for his contribution to the #Tajamuka/Sesjikile Campaign and the RTUZ.
- He was featured in the list of the 100 Most Influential Young Africans by the Africa Youth Awards in 2017 for his impact on social change and democracy in Zimbabwe.
- He was invited to speak at various local and international platforms and events, such as the Oslo Freedom Forum, the World Economic Forum, the Africa Leadership Academy, and the Harvard Kennedy School.