For a period in 2013, uncertainty was lingering on when the Zimbabwean elections would be held. Two Constitutional Court rulings in June stated that the election had to be held by July 31 2013 and so this date was announced as the elections day for Zimbabwe. On this day, Zimbabweans will go to the polls to vote in local government, parliamentary and presidential elections. It was in anticipation of these elections that Southern Africa Development Community- Election Support Network (SADC-ESN) organised a two-day BRIDGE workshop on election observation for its members from the region who will be deployed to observe the elections in Zimbabwe.
The aim of the workshop was to build the capacities and enhance the preparedness of identified observers before their deployment. This was the second SADC-ESN training on election observation to be held in the past year aimed at ensuring that adequate number of observers were trained for election observation not only in Zimbabwe but in other SADC countries as well.
The training workshop was held in Pretoria, South Africa from 4-5 July 2013. Fifteen participants from several SADC countries including Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Seychelles were trained. The workshop covered the basics and theory of election observation and monitoring. This included defining what election observation is and drawing the distinction between observation and monitoring: what is observed on elections day: and the importance of election observation among other issues. Further the training covered the specific aspects of election observation in Zimbabwe. An in-depth discussion was held on the practical aspects deployment for observation; security and safety tips; stress management and the legal framework governing election observation in Zimbabwe as well as the code of conduct for election observers.
Workshop participants were excited about their upcoming roles in election observation and they enthusiastically participated in all the activities of the two-day workshop. Those among the participants who had previous election observation experience eagerly shared their experiences with others in a manner that greatly enriched the training process.
The training workshop was facilitated by Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, Harris Potani and Revai Makanje Aalbaek.