International IDEA organised an Electoral Contestants Module Course for EMBs in Africa on 01 -05 October 2012 in Pretoria, South Africa. This project is one of many interventions by IDEA with a purpose of strengthening the EMBs in Africa and the Middle East by developing capacity for the officials of the Commissions for effective management of all Electoral processes and administrative activities. A joint collaboration was established between International IDEA and the African Union Commission with the aim to develop capacity for the officials of various EMBs for effective management of all Electoral processes and administrative activities. Funded by AUSAID; this workshop is part of the Joint Activity Plan – JAP Project between the two afore-mentioned parties where a series of capacity development workshops are organised and conducted.
This workshop is only one in a series of capacity development workshops that are planned as part of the training strategy of the African Union and IDEA for the purpose of ensuring that EMB staff have the necessary skills and expertise to develop and implement strategies that will ensure that mandate of administering free and fair elections is carried out efficiently.
International IDEA provided the funding for the project including accommodation and subsistence and travel for the participants and consultancy fees for the Lead facilitator.
A BRIDGE Electoral Contestants Course: A five-day training workshop was designed and customised to suit the needs of various EMBs in the African Continent. The participants were taken through an intensive programme which encompassed content on Democracy and the right to contest, Electoral Systems and political parties, Political party context, Legal framework for political parties, Registration of political parties, Internal party functioning, Code of Conduct in Elections, Electoral Fraud, Contestant Relationship, Party Monitors Training, Candidate Nominations, Quotas, Campaigning, Media, Political Finance in order to understand the important role that political parties play in an Election and the importance of establishing and maintaining good relationships for the purpose of ensuring free and fair Elections while each role player understands and appreciate the challenges experienced by each and every stakeholder during the Electoral processes.
Various activities were carefully selected from the Electoral Contestant Module and other Modules. The facilitators ensured that the topics included the gender dimension as a cross cutting theme and emphasis was made on other cross-cutting themes whenever it was necessary to do so. Upon successful completion of the course, the participants received Certificates of Completion.
In order to strengthen the EMBs and to build capacity of the staff especially those who work with political parties within their EMBs; BRIDGE was identified the donor organisation and the African Union in consultation with the various EMBs as the best resource in terms of the methodology and course content that meets the Commissions needs and expectations. IDEA are one the major players in democracy development and continue to execute the development strategies through various interventions that include facilitating consultative forums and funding training and dialogues with different stakeholders including the EMBs, Political Parties, Government and Civil Society.
The facilitators arrived a week prior to the commencement of the workshop in order to establish and agree on the Terms of Reference; develop the curriculum and agenda. The Lead facilitator together with three semi-accredited facilitators prepared the course materials and equipment. The staff of International IDEA at the Pretoria office assisted in the preparation and printing of the resources.
Five BRIDGE facilitators participated in the delivery of the course. The facilitators exhibited a good combination of professional experience and diverse background and expertise. Presentations were selected and conducted accordingly with only minor changes.
1. Sibongile Zimemo (Female);(Consultant; South Africa – South African) – Lead Facilitator
2. Augustine Magolowondo (Male);(NIMD – Malawi – Malawian – Semi-Accredited
3. Kgothatso Semela-Serote (Female): (International IDEA – Africa and Middle East – South African) – Semi- Accredited
4. Sam van der Staak: (Male) (International IDEA – Sweden – Dutch) – Semi- Accredited
The facilitation team provided a positive environment and established a very good professional relationship with the participants and the positive spirit was maintained throughout the programme.
22 participants (12 Females and 10 males) participated in the workshop.
The experience, content knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by all participants throughout the workshop contributed to the achievement of the aims of the training. The mixture of different organisational experiences and expertise contributed to the success of the workshop. Participants exchanged information, experiences and practices among themselves and with the facilitators. The positive team spirit amongst the participants and facilitators assisted everyone to participate and perform at the best of their ability. The participants could not articulate enough how impressed they were with the uniqueness and flexibility of the BRIDGE curriculum and methodology and how useful it will be in assisting them in executing their duties (See participant’s comments: bullet 9.2 below)
The following countries were represented:
6. Nigeria (AU official – Ethipia)
7. South Africa
The course on day one with an opening and welcome by Stina Larserud Program Officer – Africa, International IDEA followed by the speeches by the Elections Officer of the African Union, Mr Chika Charles Aniekwe, Ambassador Mustaq Moorad, head of International IDEA Africa and Middle East and the first secretary of the Australian High Commission Mr Frank Thompson who officially opened the programme. Subsequently the programme commenced with presentations on the background of BRIDGE, the teaching methodology behind it and the Learning Outcomes of the course.
Various techniques, including Group Work, Mini lectures and Case Studies were applied to deliver the BRIDGE content. Throughout the programme, participants and facilitators conducted ice-breakers and energizers in order to establish rapport among the participants and to rejuvenate the mind and body. During the first day of the course, participants developed their own code of conduct, which is not only an exercise in team building, but also another approach to working with adults and a way of constructing accepted behaviours for the rest of the five-day programme.
The activities of the last day included the completion of the End of Course Evaluation Form; Reflection of the days; the Certificate Ceremony and Closing session. All participants expressed the need to implement BRIDGE strategies in the future in order to build capacity in their respective contexts, strengthen the organisation and establish relationships with all other stakeholders in the political and electoral fields.
The workshop ended on day five with a certificate ceremony and the official closing of the programme by International IDEA’S programme officer for Africa – Stina Larserud who officially closed the programme.