A BRIDGE Voter Registration workshop was held from 16-20 September, 2013, in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. This was the first BRIDGE project in Tanzania. It was also the first delivered in the country under the auspices of the EU-UNDP partnership supporting the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Electoral Commissions Forum (ECF).
The training course was one of the interventions of the EU-UNDP Global Program for Electoral Cycle Support launched on 04 February, 2013. In line with the aim to strengthen the capacity of SADC-ECF and professionalizing elections management in the region, two BRIDGE semi-accredited facilitators and one workshop facilitator were identified from the NEC of Tanzania. The two semi-accredited facilitators were coached lead by Emmanuel Kawishe and Tomsie Dlamini, in preparation for the workshop. They however, withdrew from the Facilitation Team citing non-payment for services they would have rendered as facilitators as the reason. By default, this opening was then filled by a semi-accredited UNDP employee.
The facilitation team included:
i. Adv. Emmanuel Kawishe, Workshop facilitator, National Electoral Commission (Tanzania)
ii. Ms. Tomsie Dlamini, Accrediting Facilitator, Consultant (South Africa)
iii. Ms. Hamida Kibwana, UNDP Botswana, ECF-SADC support (Kenya).
Ms Kibwana received full accreditation.
Thirty participants (11 Females and 19 Males) participated in the workshop. They were drawn from various departments of the NEC.
The Voter Registration Module falls under Electoral Operations in the BRIDGE curriculum. This module was identified by the NEC in preparation of the forthcoming referendum on the Constitution 2014 and the 2015 elections. Then NEC will also be using Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) for registering voters for the first time. The course material was therefore packaged in the backdrop of these critical democratic processes that the NEC has to delivery on in 2014 and 2015.
The five-day course program covered the following thematic areas:
Day 1: Rationale, Guiding Principles of Voter Registration and Eligibility to Vote.
Day 2: Law and Procedures.
Day 3: Information Management.
Day 4: Steps to Producing a Final Voters Roll.
Day 5: Operational Considerations and Strategic Planning (Make it Happen).
The session on Information Management brought to the fore critical issues on data collection. This detail was reflected on the type of information participants indicated in the fields of the voter registration form. Data to be collected included, religion, level of education for example. It transpired that the NEC will gather this detail and pass it on to the National Identification Authority (NIDA).
The BRIDGE course was overall rated very highly by participants. This is borne out by their evaluation comments and ratings with regards to usefulness of the course. Time was a consistent problem across the course and the participants identified this. While every effort is made to accommodate both the participatory nature of the course with the program, this remains a perennial problem with all BRIDGE courses.
By Emmanuel Kawishe