Lesotho is renowned for its icy winters and this awaited me as I got off the plane, with the wind cutting through my various layers of clothing.. The icy reception differed vastly from that received by the course participants from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Organised by Lesotho UNDP, the course catered for 21 participants from the Maseru-based head office, as well as district offices around the country. The course focused on the Introduction to Election Administration Module and ran from 14 to 18 July.
The course was led by Rushdi Nackerdien and three facilitators received their full accreditation during the course. They were:
The Lesotho IEC had agreed that Mr Mokotedi (from South Africa) could co-facilitate and this was an important development in building the cadre of accredited facilitators in the sub-region. With few opportunities arising for gaining full accreditation, this approach can only be encouraged, where facilitators from neighbouring countries are brought in to co-facilitate. The issue of funding will always be an issue, but mechanisms can be sought to overcome this challenge. Partial or own-funded initiatives are useful means by which this could be done.
While the weather was cold, the debates during the course were heated. The two areas that enjoyed most focus were the electoral system and the area of “independence” of the EMB.
Participants were mindful of institutional inconsistencies between the role of the civil service and theirs as “independent” election managers
Participants from all offices were very knowledgeable and keen to share their opinions and experiences. Overall, participants were quite articulate and not scared to raise their opinions honestly or ask questions. The youthful nature of many of the participants is an important strength that the Lesotho IEC can build on. This bodes well for the future, as these participants will obviously go on to form the backbone of the IEC in its future operations.
Participants left the course excited about future BRIDGE activities, as well as implementing some of their learnings at the workplace. More BRIDGE activities are planned before the end of 2008 in Lesotho.