The first Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) training workshop for election-related civil society organisations was held March 6 – 17, 2006 at SaferAfrica offices. This was aimed at building the enabling capacity of the PNASCAE to play an effective role in the electoral process in Angola. To achieve this aim, the training focused on selected components of the BRIDGE modules. The training was conducted in both English and Portuguese. This ABRIDGE workshop was funded and coordinated by SaferAfrica based in South Africa. The training was facilitated by Theophilus Dowetin and Kenneth Mpyisi as co-facilitator. The topics treated included the following:
BRIDGE TTF is the first phase of a PNASCAE/Angola 2000 project that received financial support from the Royal Netherlands Embassy of the Netherlands and technical support from the Governance and Development Programme of SaferAfrica. The second phase of the project will include a BRIDGE training of Provincial Coordinators of the PNASCAE on voter registration, preparation of an electoral event and polling and the count. The third and final phase of the project will be a PNACSAE /Electoral Commission Roundtable Meeting. The BRIDGE TTF training was conducted by four accredited BRIDGE facilitators, Mr. Felisberto Naife (Lead Facilitator), Mr. Cesar Pereira da Silva, Claudio Langa from the Secretaradio Technico de Administracao Electoral (STAE) and Kenneth Mpyisi, Governance and Development Programme, SaferAfrica. The team of facilitators arrived in Luanda on 12 September 2006 to prepare for the course. In close coordination with the PNASACE, the team prepared the 10 day course that aimed to ensure that the participants are fully trained in the BRIDGE methodology and electoral processes within the national context of Angola. Portuguese materials for the introduction to electoral administration, preparation on electoral event, polling and the count were availed by International IDEA. SaferAfrica translated the electoral systems, public outreach, voter registration, electoral observation and strategies for sustainability (facilitators’ notes and indexes) modules. The participants for the course included nine members of PNASCAE, three from Angola 2000, two from the National Electoral Commission of Angola and two from the Ministry of Territorial Administration. The training was conducted at the Hotel Fleuma and was fully residential.
The opening ceremony was attended by the President of the National Electoral Commission, Dr Caetano de Sousa, the Ambassador of the Netherlands H.E Jan Gijs Shouten and other members of the diplomatic corps in Angola, officials from the National Electoral Commission and members of the national media The President of the PNASCAE, Mr. Matias Capapelo made the first address outlining the background to the project and assured the audience that civil society in Angola intends to play an active and constructive role in the electoral processes in Angola.
The Ambassador of the Netherlands stressed the importance of elections for the consolidation of peace and reconciliation in Angola. He further reaffirmed the commitment of the government of the Netherlands in supporting democratic processes in Angola. Dr. Caetano De Sousa, President of the National Electoral Commission welcomed the training as an important process in capacity building of key stakeholders in electoral processes. He also stressed that close cooperation between civil society and the electoral commission is important for successful electoral processes.
Following the opening ceremony the facilitators embarked on an overview of the BRIDGE methodology and modules. The facilitators utilised power point presentations and group exercises for this section of the course with the full participation of participants. Emphasis was placed on key understandings, learning outcomes and assessment criteria. The session was concluded with the elaboration of the code of conduct for the course.
On the second day of training, the facilitators divided the participants into four groups and were assigned different modules and requested to prepare facilitators notes and deliver presentations. The groups were given the rest of the day to prepare their presentations. During the preparation period the facilitators assisted the groups and clarified any outstanding issues. The following day the groups were randomly chosen to commence their presentations. The modules covered included introduction to electoral administration, electoral systems, voter registration and the preparation of the electoral event. The presentations were made on day 3 and 4 of the training. Overall the groups worked well together and used various activities during their presentations. These included brainstorming, role plays, powerpoint presentations icebreakers and energizers.
At the beginning of week two, the facilitators reviewed the presentations with the participants as a group. The main area of focus was to encourage the participants to use a variety of activities and to ensure that the focus of the training is on the participants. The facilitators reviewed some modules and made further clarifications particularly on electoral systems and boundary delimitation. The participants were then randomly divided into groups of two for the preparation and presentation for the following week. Topics included observers, polling and the count, preparation of an electoral event and strategies for sustainability. Some of the groups received the same topic which was therefore useful in further explaining methodological issues and in depth discussions. Overall the presentations were well prepared and inspired discussions that focused on the national context of Angola as well as the use of international experiences. The final session of the training included an overview of the BRIDGE implementation manual and a group exercise on planning BRIDGE training.
On 28th September 2006 a closing and presentation of certificates ceremony was held at Hotel Fleuma. H.E Gijs Shouten Ambassador of the Netherlands presented the BRIDGE certificates to the participants. Mr. Matias Capapelo President of the PNASACAE thanked the Ambassador of the Netherlands for his financial and moral support. He also thanked the facilitators for an inspiring 10 days and the participants for their dedication.