In the context of the continued support to the SADC Election Support Network (SADC-ESN), the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) in collaboration with the Secretariat of SADC-ESN have delivered a BRIDGE Train the Facilitator session in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from 23 September to 4 October 2013.
The training is took place as part of the “Preventing Electoral Violence in the SADC” project (www.pev-sadc.eu). The project is 75% funded by the European Union with the remaining 25 percent from the supporting efforts of ECES (www.eces.eu) and EISA (www.eisa.co.za) who are implementing the project in collaboration with the SADC-ESN (www.sadc-esn.org).
The project beneficiaries are 15 countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), namely Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This large-scale project spans a period of 2 years, targeting 16 Civil Society Organisations in the SADC countries and is geared towards enhancing their respective capacity to deal with electoral violence and related issues.
As a part of the projects capacity development activities, the ten-day BRIDGE TTF in Tanzania aimed at semi-accrediting a core group of local electoral stakeholders for further in-country workshops.
The participants of the course wrote the following part of this article.
The national BRIDGE Train the facilitators Course was conducted for the first time in Tanzania, and the organizer who made the training it possible and successful was the European Center for Electoral Support (ECES) together with the SADC Election Support Network (SADC-ESN) and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
The training was hosted by the Tanzania Economical Dialogue Group (TEDG) through the Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC), and conducted in English from 23 September to 04 October 2013, at the Tanzania Episcopal Centre (TEC) in Dar es Salaam. Twenty organisations where to the training and a total of 22 participants (11 males and 11 females) attended.
The opening ceremony was attended by different electoral stakeholders including CSOs and Electoral Commission representatives. The TEC-Deputy Secretary General, Fr. Gallus Marandu opened the workshop and encouraged participants to make full use of the opportunity through full time attendance and active participation in order to facilitate the institutionalization of BRIDGE program in Tanzania.
The two BRIDGE facilitators who delivered the course were Rindai Chipfunde-Vava from the Zimbabwean Electoral Support Network (ZESN) who also hosts the secretariat of the SADC-ESN, as the lead facilitator Accrediting Facilitator together with Emmanuel Kawishe, Advocate and BRIDGE Accredited Facilitator of the National Electoral Commission in Tanzania while Mathieu Merino, Deputy Project Director of the PEV-SADC Project represented ECES Deputy Director of the project.
The facilitators, together with the participants, created a positive learning environment and established good professional relationships and a positive spirit was maintained throughout the program. The mixture of different experiences and diverse cultures also tremendously contributed to our understanding of the program.
As Participants, we exchanged information, experiences and practices among ourselves and with the facilitators. The collaborative spirit among ourselves as participants also assisted those with any barriers, especially language and public speaking, to overcome these challenges.
One participant said: “Before attending the course, I thought that I knew a lot about facilitation and electoral processes, but during and after the training, I realized that I had little knowledge in many of the aspects”, another one was quoted saying that, “BRIDGE is rich in training techniques and the material is so massive with its a memorable experiences”.
We cannot express enough how impressed and excited we are with the uniqueness of the BRIDGE curriculum and the methodology used during the training. The program is very relevant and useful in our working environments and it has shed new light on approaches we can use when implementing electoral process in order to enhance the credibility of the whole process.
On the knowledge acquired, a participant said that it shall not remain only with us; we will spread it into society through trainings, workshops and other educative programs through the use of media channels and outreach programmes. This strategy will help improve the services delivered in relation to the election and we believe that it will help in the prevention of electoral violence and strengthen Democracy in Tanzania.
We appreciate the training, our confidences and facilitation skills have been boosted up very much, we will not take this advantage for granted, we will make use of them in our working environment so as to effect Democracy in Tanzania.
The Chair of Tanzania National Electoral Commission Hon ( Rtd) Justice Damian Lubavu has this to say during his closing ceremony speech:
“I feel Tanzania is lucky to have this very important course conducted in Dar es Salaam. It is very useful to the various election stakeholders who have been involved in this training. I believe they are going to be our ambassadors in the forthcoming Constitutional Referendum in 2014 and general election in 2015.”