David Coltart was born in Gweru on 4 October 1957 and the family relocated to Bulawayo. He went to Hillside Primary School and then Christian Brothers College for high school. He was Conscripted into the British South African Police Force stationed in Mashonaland, Matabeleland South and Masvingo Provinces. David graduated with a law degree at the university of Capetown in 1980 as well as his LLB post graduate law degree in 1982. He married Jennifer Reine Barrett in 1983 and have four children namely Jessica, Douglas, Scott and Bethany.
David's political life began whilst at the university of Capetown (UCT) when he became involved in politics and was elected as chairman of the Zimbabwe student society. The society represented the interests of thousands of Zimbabwean students studying at the university. He was also elected to serve on the law student council and was director of the Crossroads Legal Aid Clinic which provided services to poor South Africans this was from 1980-82. Then in 1983, he was employed by a Law firm Webb, Low and Barry and was made partner 1984. Coltart began compiling data on the Gukurahundi atrocities. He was requested by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace to record affidavits from people who had suffered at the hands of the 5th Brigade. In April 1983 was appointed secretary of the Bulawayo Legal Practitioners Association in this capacity started the first legal aid clinic in Bulawayo. In 1999 was appointed to sit on the legal committee of the National Constitutional Assembly of Zimbabwe(NCA), was also appointed chairperson of the interim legal committee of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He also elected secretary for legal affairs of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at its inaugural congress in 2000, in the same year was elected member of parliament for Bulawayo South Constituency. He was member of the observer team in 1992 when Kenya had elections.
In August 2003, was member of an MDC delegation to Kenya to study the Kenyan electoral system which culminated in proposals being made for wide ranging reform of Zimbabwe’s electoral practices and laws. In October 2003 attended a private meeting with President Nelson Mandela and Advocate George Bizos to brief President Mandela on the Zimbabwe Presidential Election court challenge. Then in October/November 2004, as MDC Secretary for Legal Affairs and Shadow Justice Minister introduced and led argument on in Parliament the MDC’s extensive proposed amendments to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Bill and the Electoral Bill. Coltart was e-elected member of Parliament for Bulawayo South Constituency in March 2005. August 2006 was elected as Secretary for Legal Affairs and member of the Strategic Planning Committee of the MDC (Mutambara faction). He was appointed Chairperson of MDC (M) advisory committee on Constitutional reform for the SADC mediation exercise. In March 2008 elected to the Senate on behalf of the MDC in the Khumalo Senatorial Constituency of Bulawayo in the 29th March 2009 general election. He delivered a speech focusing on crimes against humanity being committed in Zimbabwe at the Policy Exchange in London and held several meetings regarding the human rights situation in Zimbabwe in London and New York in May 2008. In February 2009 appointed Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture in the transitional inclusive government brought about by the Global Political Agreement entered into by MDC (T), MDC and ZANU (PF) in September 2008. David Coltart brought a teachers's strike to an end when he negotiated with the Teachers's Unions. About 90 000 teachers had gone on strike causing a closure of 8 000 country schools. He granted amnesty allowing for teachers who had left to come back to work. Appointed joint chairperson of the Constitution Committee, a body established under the Global Political Agreement and charged with drafting a new Constitution in May 2009.