David Coltart (born 4 October 1957) is a Zimbabwean lawyer and a founding member of the Movement for Democratic Change. He was the Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South in the House of Assembly from 2000 to 2008, and he was elected to the Senate in 2008. Senator Coltart was the Minister for Education, Sport, Arts and Culture from February 2009 until August 2013 in the Government of National Unity.
Coltart was born in Gwelo, Midlands Province, in the former Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. He enrolled at the University of Cape Town in 1978 and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Law as well as his LLB (post-graduate law degree). While at UCT Coltart first became involved in politics when he was elected as Chairman of the Zimbabwe Students’ Society. In 1981 he was threatened with deportation by the then apartheid government who did not like his activities promoting the new independent Zimbabwe.
After completing his law degree in December 1982, Coltart returned to Zimbabwe and in January 1983 went to work for the Webb, Low and Barry law firm in Bulawayo. He was admitted as a Legal Practitioner of the Zimbabwean High Court in February 1983. In April of that year he established the first Legal Aid Clinic in Bulawayo and was appointed a partner of Webb, Low and Barry in 1984 where became the firm’s senior partner in 1998, a position he still holds.
In 1998 and 1999 Sen. Coltart sat on the Constitutional Drafting Committee of the National Constitutional Assembly and played a role in advocating successfully for the rejection of the government’s draft constitution in the February 2000 referendum.
In 1999 joined the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and was appointed as the interim Legal Secretary for the party. In January 2000, at the inaugural congress of the MDC, Coltart was elected Secretary for Legal Affairs. This position gave him the responsibility of formulating the MDC justice policy, of conducting the MDC’s electoral court challenges and of organising the legal defence of MDC members who had been detained and prosecuted, including Prsident Morgan Tsvangirai’s treason trial.
Coltart was elected to the House of Assembly in the 2000 election as a member of the Movement for Democratic Change, unseating the Zanu-PF incumbent and becoming the MP for Bulawayo South. During his first term in Parliament he was the Shadow Justice Minister and chaired the Parliamentary Justice Committee. He was re-elected in the March 2005 general election, winning his seat with a 76% majority.
He became Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture during the inclusive government and was appointed as the Co-chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Reform.
As Minister for Education, Coltart brought an end to the ongoing teacher strikes, enabling schools to re-open in 2009. In 2010 Coltart secured funding via UNICEF to provide all school children with textbooks in certain core subjects and also set in motion a curriculum review, the first since the 1980s. In his role as Sports Minister, Coltart was instrumental in Zimbabwe’s re-entry into Test cricket in August 2011, their first Test in six years.
Sen. Coltart was elected the party Treasurer General at the 5th National Congress in Gweru in 2019.