BRIDGE Gender and Elections Course in Dar es Salaam Tanzania– “Country of the precious Tanzanite of Africa” on 21 – 25 July 2014
Subsequent to the consultative process with all the relevant stakeholders and the final decision to move to Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) in Tanzania; with the aim of facilitating the process, the African Union Commission (AU) in conjunction with the Electoral Commission of Tanzania (NEC) organized a 5-day BRIDGE Capacity-Building Training for 17 staff members of the commission, on the topic of “Voter Registration” in Dar es Salaam on 21-25 July 2014.
This workshop was the second to be conducted following one that took place in Bagamoyo, Tanzania in June 2014. In order to ensure that the commission had the capacity to carry out this enormous exercise, the afore-mentioned parties saw it necessary to conduct a similar training programme and therefore providing skills to a large pool of officials of the Electoral Management Body.
The Voter registration exercise is one of the most critical components in the Electoral process, one that is the project that takes up a bulk of financial and other resources in the operational budget of most Electoral Commissions. It is therefore crucial that the most effective, accurate and cost-effective method is used by the body that is mandated to conduct this exercise while ensuring that the process provides for access, is inclusive, caters for gender issues, that it has integrity and therefore ensuring the trust in the body by the stakeholders by ensuring compliance to the mandate and principles of “free and fair elections”. The electoral Commission of Tanzania in partnership with the African Union intended to achieve these standards by embarking on these capacity building programmes.
The Voter Registration Module explored the general guiding principles of Voter registration with respect to electoral events and the electoral cycle. The participants were taken through an intensive programme, which encompassed content on Electoral Cycle and Registration Systems; Quality Assurance Mechanisms; Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, Working with Stakeholders; Operational Considerations; Voter Education; Voters Roll Audit and Observation; Developing a Strategic Plan for the different Regions/Districts; Biometric Voter Registration demonstration. The participants were also given an opportunity to review the Observer Mission Reports on the previous registration process and thoroughly gave attention to the challenges and recommendations outlined in the Reports.
The programme commenced on day one with the official opening and welcome by the Master of Ceremonies, Mr Julius Malaba, Director of Elections –Electoral Commission of Tanzania followed by the speech from Ms Shumbana Karume, Head, Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit, Department of Political Affairs – African Union Commission and subsequently a speech by Hon. Justice(Rtd) Damian Lubuva, Chairperson – Zanzibar Electoral Commission who officially opened the programme.
Participation in all the training activities was full of enthusiasm and participant evaluations applauded the BRIDGE methodology and the module curriculum.
Sibongile Zimemo (South Africa) was the lead BRIDGE Facilitator and was supported by Emmanuel Kawishe (Electoral Commission of Tanzania), Rafiki Kiravu (Electoral Commission of Tanzania), Alute Salvatory Kisuda (Electoral Commission of Tanzania), Christina Bilali (Electoral Commission of Tanzania),
The training was also enriched by the participation of Mr Amos Madaha of the Electoral Commission of Tanzania; also a BRIDGE Semi-accredited facilitator who presented a good demonstration and generously shared his expertise with his fellow colleagues on the Biometric Voter Registration Kit that will be used during the roll-out of the registration process countrywide.
The participants, who successfully completed the course, received their certificates at the official closing of the programme.
I thank the host; Electoral Commission of Tanzania and the sponsor of the programme; the African Union Commission, the facilitators and participants; wishing you everything of the best in all your endeavors.