PARTICIPANTS ARTICLE ON BRIDGE VOTER REGISTRATION WORKSHOP FOR DISTRICT ELECTIONS OFFICERS (DEOs), VOTER EDUCATION COORDINATORS AND SELECT CSOs AT KADOMA HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTRE: 26-28 NOVEMBER 2014 ZIMBABWE
The new Constitution mandates Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to be solely responsible for Voter Registration hence a series of workshops have been held to acquaint the electoral managers and the leadership of a select group of CSOs with knowledge, skills and competences for undertaking this vital function. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in collaboration with ZEC organised one such workshop on Voter Registration which was held at Kadoma Hotel and Conference Centre from the 26th to the 28th of October 2014.
The workshop was facilitated by the BRIDGE accredited facilitators who comprised of Mr Emmanuel Kawishe (M) from the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania, Mr Utloile Silaigwana (a.k.a Sly) (M), Ms Rejoice Sibanda (F) and Mrs Hendrina Mukuware (F)(semi-accredited) all from the (ZEC). There were thirty-one (31) participants including representatives of marginalised groups such as women, youths and the persons living with disabilities, disaggregated as follows: 23 males and 8 females.
The BRDIGE course was sequentially presented in units that added up to the full process of voter registration. Some of the major areas of the course content were as follows; Importance of Voter Registration, Voter Registration Methodology, Biometric Voter Registration, use of different technologies in Voter Registration, Information and Data Management, Legal framework for voter registration, Compiling and Storing registration data. It also looked at maintaining the voter register, elements of a good voter register, stakeholders engagements, developing voter registration education materials, voter registration audit, operational plans, budgeting and designing a voter register.
The facilitators expertly used methodologies that encouraged cross pollination of ideas among the participants; this cemented the relationship between the EMB staff and the CSOs representatives who participated in the workshop. The presentation started from a general perspective, moving onto the specifics which built the competencies of the participants to effectively deal with both managerial and operational demands of voter registration. This was summed up in the District Elections Officer for Mutasa comments, “the training has been proactive in capacitating us as managers to deal with Voter Registration (VR) from an informed position”. The Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates the EMB to register voters hence the BRIDGE content on the voter registration module thus resonated quite well with the EMB’s new constitutional mandate.
The workshop has also equipped the CSOs with sufficient information to productively collaborate with the EMB in preparation for the next voter registration which will enhance the wider participation of the electorate. Sylvia Chahwanda of The Women’s Trust indicated that the workshop was very informative as it provided basic understanding of VR issues.
Participants proposed that more BRIDGE workshops be considered to continuously improve knowledge and skills in election management. The relationship between ZEC and ZESN (CSOs) should continue to be strengthened and cemented through joint activities at all EMB levels.