ZEC and CSOs working together to advance democracy in Zimbabwe

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Conducting civic education is one of the main functions of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). However, the legal framework of Zimbabwe gives prerogative to ZEC to permit any person to assist it in providing voter education. Zimbabwean Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) have been the historic stakeholders of ZEC in conducting civic and voter education. Against this background, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in collaboration with ZEC organised a 3-day workshop on Civic Education and Voter Information with the aims; enhancing the skills, knowledge and confidence both of EMBs officers and professionals from (CSOs) in planning, implementing and monitoring civic and voter education campaigns.

The training was made possible with the support from the Swiss government. The workshop was held at Holiday Inn Hotel in Bulawayo from the 21st to the 23rd of October 2015.

The course prepared and facilitated by a gender balanced team of four BRIDGE accredited facilitators namely, Rejoice Sibanda (Accrediting Facilitator, Female, Zimbabwean), Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, (Accrediting Facilitator, Female, Zimbabwean), Silaigwana Utloile (Workshop Facilitator, Male, Zimbabwean) and Zefanias Matsimbe (Accrediting Facilitator, Male, Mozambican), brought together 30 participants (14 Females and 16 Males) from ZEC and CSOs.The mixture of ZEC and CSOs participants tremendously contributed to the success of the workshop. Participants exchanged information, knowledge, skills, experiences and challenges faced in conducting civic education and voter information.

The End of Course Evaluation revealed the overall satisfaction of the participants on the BRIDGE methodology, content administered and the facilitation process. Participants performed very well with a high level of professionalism and enthusiasm throughout the course.

Almost unanimously participants believed that this training would assist them in drafting strategies to conduct future voter information and civic education programmes in their respective organisations. They also recommended ZESN and funders to consider organising more BRIDGE workshops to improve the skills and ability of the ZEC and CSOs workforce to impart objective Civic Education and Voter Information that can enhance citizen participation in elections and electoral processes.

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