Media and Elections Workshops in Zimbabwe

In preparation for the upcoming General Elections in Zimbabwe in 2018, a joint collaboration was established between Transparency, Responsiveness, Accountability and Civic Engagement (TRACE), Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) with the aim of building capacity of various electoral stakeholders in Zimbabwe in order to ensure that the officials have the essential and necessary skills and expertise to develop and implement strategies that will ensure that free, fair and credible elections are carried out efficiently with each of the stakeholders playing their roles effectively to ensure that the citizens of Zimbabwe are well-informed on their rights and all matters pertaining to electoral processes and in turn without fear are able to exercise those rights and participate fully in democracy of their country while holding the EMB executive and government accountable.

Subsequent to the success of BRIDGE workshops that were conducted in October – November 2017 on Civic Education and Voter Information in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare it was recommended and decided that more BRIDGE workshops on various topics should be conducted in order to achieve the afore-mentioned objectives and to ensure that diverse groups of electoral stakeholders benefit from this important project.

TRACE in conjunction with ZESN and IFES organised a Media and Elections workshops from 22 February – 04 March 2018, in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare. DAI International provided the funding for the project. The workshops were held at the following venues:

  1. Harare: Wildgeese Hotel (22 – 24 February 2018)
  2. Bulawayo: Holiday Inn (26 – 28 February 2018)
  3. Mutare: Holiday Inn (02 – 04 March 2018)

One hundred and four participants (65% Males, 35% Females) who were selected from various Media houses, Civil Society organisations and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) attended the workshop. The course served as an insight into the intricacies of media coverage of elections using the main strategies viz. Editorial Coverage, Direct Access and Public Outreach Campaigns. It also explored the importance of the relationship between the Media and ZEC. This also created a great opportunity to discuss matters for consideration and incorporation of special electoral stakeholder’s issues in the operational and strategic plans of the different organisations. This course therefore, enabled participants to identify barriers that women and other disadvantaged groups (People with disabilities (PWDs), Displaced people and minority parties) face in fully accessing the electoral processes and identify areas of improvement and discuss and recommend the necessary mechanisms to ensure participation by these groups and address the issues of apathy amongst the youth. The intention was also to establish the progress made by the different stakeholders in ensuring the enhancement and promotion of democracy in Zimbabwe and incorporate their ideas into long and short-term strategic plan within the Electoral Cycle as the country is gearing for the General Elections likely to be held in July/August of 2018.

Three BRIDGE facilitators (2 Females and 1 Male) all Accrediting, participated in the delivery of the course:

  1. Sibongile Zimemo (Female); (Consultant; South Africa)
  2. Rindai Chipfunde-Vava (Female):(Director; ZESN–Zimbabwe)
  3. Zefanias Matsimbe (Male);(Consultant; Mozambique)

The facilitators provided comparative studies and experiences of different countries in which they were involved in providing capacity building programs on this module and in the electoral process in general. The local facilitator provided her extensive knowledge of the Zimbabwe context. Electoral laws and Regulations pertaining to Media and Elections, strategies and best practices from the different countries were explored as well as the roles and relationships of various electoral stakeholders and relationships between the EMBs and Media in various countries. A positive environment and good spirit was maintained throughout the workshop by the facilitators and participants alike. Everyone contributed to the best of their abilities.

This workshop also provided an opportunity for Kundai Matenga (BRIDGE TtF Complete) to commence her fieldwork on her path to accreditation. Kundai exhibited commitment, dedication and outstanding performance. Due to the amount of time and limited number of sessions conducted, she will be afforded another opportunity to facilitate in other BRIDGE workshops in the near future in order to ensure that she meets the requirements to proceed to the next level of Workshop Facilitator.

Some comments from the participants on what they take away from the workshop….

“That cooperation between the Media and ZEC will be good for the nation” Lee Mangena

“Media is necessary during elections as it acts as a watchdog in providing the public with information about the electoral process” Thamsanqa

“ I have realized that only through well co-ordinated efforts can effective systems in elections be built and achieved. I have gained hope altogether” Abigale Mupambi

“ The regulations governing the media and the EMBs during the electoral periods including the international legislature, also the importance of closing the communication vacuum to reduce the spreading of fake news” Blondie Ndebele

“ Thanks for the good work” Flata Kavinga

The participants expressed their gratitude for the well-organised workshops and professionalism of the facilitators and the knowledge they acquired.

Thanking everyone for the sterling work, which contributed tremendously to the success of the workshops.

Well done Kundai!

Thanking the sponsors and organisers of the workshops for a well-organised programme.

 

       Wishing all of you everything of the best in your endeavours.

 

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