Following the coming into effect of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 20, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) organised a workshop on Voter Registration which was held at Troutbeck Resort in Nyanga from the 9th to the 11th of October 2014. The workshop was organised in a bid to equip and widen the participants’ knowledge and skills on the Voter Registration Module process and prepare participants for the eminent task of conducting voter registration.
The BRIDGE trained facilitators comprised of Mr Emmanuel Kawishe (M) from the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania , Mr Utloile Silaigwana (Sly) (M), Ms Rejoice Sibanda (F) and Ms Shamiso B, Chahuruva (F) all from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The thirty-one (31) participants were Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officers.
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, stakeholder engagements, developing voter registration education materials, voter registration audit operational plans, budgeting and designing a voter register.
Given the fact that the constitution of Zimbabwe which came in through the 2013 referendum mandates the EMB to register voters, the workshop was thus of great significance to electoral managers as they acquired knowledge useful for the voter registration exercise. The BRIDGE content on the voter registration module thus resonated quite well with the EMB’s new constitutional mandate.
During the workshop, the participants noted that the three day workshop was historic as it brought ZEC (the EMB) and ZESN (the CSO) together. This indicates a positive relationship between the EMB and its stakeholders. This harmony between ZESN and ZEC will go a long way in promoting transparency and participative democracy ushered through credible elections. One participant commended this relationship and acknowledged that the BRIDGE Voter Registration module workshop will subsequently improve the quality of the voters roll and enhance its acceptance by stakeholders.
The participatory methodology used by the facilitators enabled the participants to understand concepts much easier as the module was customised and synchronised with the Zimbabwean electoral processes.
Participants also commended the BRIDGE curriculum and the methodology which uses adult learning techniques which are more participatory and activity based as opposed to the traditional methods of delivery. Participants also proposed that more BRIDGE workshops be considered to improve knowledge and skills in election management.