The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) conducted a 5-Day Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) Training on Access to Electoral Processes and Electoral Contestants Modules at Malawi Sun Hotel, Blantyre, Malawi, from 4th to 8th April, 2016.
The objective of the BRIDGE Course was to emphasize the importance of consultation processes throughout the electoral cycle from post-election analysis through design of materials and procedures in order to affect real improvement of access to electoral processes.
The Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Justice Maxon Mbendera, SC, officially opened the training. He was accompanied by the Chief Elections Officer, Mr. Willie Kalonga, and Deputy Chief Elections Officer (Operations), Mr. Harris Potani. The MEC BRIDGE Coordinator, Ms Thandi Nkovole, who is also Director of Civic and Voter Education, and Mr. Lameck Siage, European Union Democratic Governance Project (EU DGP) Finance Coordinator, conducted the closing ceremony.
The EU DGP sponsored this training as one way of enhancing democracy and good governance in the country. It was the first of its kind which targeted people with disabilities. This was one of the many trainings which EU DGP has organized for the Malawi Electoral Commission and its stakeholders.
The sponsorship included accommodation on full board for participants and MEC facilitators from outside Blantyre, travel expenses,lunch for participants and a facilitator within Blantyre, stationery for the training and consultancy fees for the two consultants.
The presence of the international facilitator from Lesotho enhanced networking between the two Electoral Management Bodies (EMB).
The two modules have made the participants appreciate that persons with disabilities have equal rights to access and contest in elections. It is their hope that MEC will be consulting them as they prepare for 2019 elections and that the gaps which were identified in the training will be addressed for the sake of inclusivity in future electoral processes.