The Electoral Commission of Zimbabwe – ZEC in conjunction with The United Nations Development Program – UNDP organised a BRIDGE Introduction to Electoral Management course on 19- 23 April 2012 in Nyanga Zimbabwe. This project is one of many interventions by the UNDP with a purpose of strengthening the Electoral Management Commission by developing capacity for the officials for effective management of all Electoral processes and administrative activities. This workshop was one course in a series of capacity development workshops that are planned as part of the training strategy of the Electoral Commission and UNDP.
The objective of the BRIDGE Introduction to Electoral Management course was to provide capacity development for staff of the Electoral Commission who were selected from the ZECs national office and Provincial. The workshop was also graced by the attendance of the ZECs CEO Mr Lovemore Chimpunza Sekeramai, whose presence and contributions were tremendously valuable and much appreciated.
The Electoral Commission of the Zimbabwe will be embarking on an outreach programme next year to introduce Electronic Voting (E-Voting) to the Stakeholders and thus during the consultation process the commissioners expressed a particular interest in the topic. Subsequently a number of activities were selected by the facilitators in order to provide the participants with relevant information on E-Voting and some case studies from six countries where electronic voting is used or has been piloted were selected with the aim of conducting a comparative study.
International IDEA provided support to the project by funding the travel and consultancy fees for the Accrediting BRIDGE facilitator’s participation.
The 5-day BRIDGE “Introduction to Electoral Administration” course was held in Nyanga, Zimbabwe. The training workshop was designed and customised to suit the needs of the ZEC and the participants were taken through an intensive programme which encompassed content on Elections in a Global context, Elections in a Global Context, Legal Framework, Electoral Systems, Civic Education and Voter Information, Electoral Stakeholder Relationships and Co-operation, Access to Electoral Systems, Planning, Gender and Elections, Voter Registration, Polling Counting and Results, Electoral Dispute Resolution, Sustainability of the EMB. Various activities were carefully selected from the Introduction to Electoral Administration 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.
In order to strengthen the EMB and to build capacity of the staff especially those who recently joined the ZEC and as part of Commission’s training strategy; BRIDGE was identified by the donor organisation UNDP in consultation with the ZEC as the best resource in terms of the methodology and course content that meets the Commission’s needs and expectations. UNDP is one the major players in democracy development and continues to execute the development strategies through various interventions which include facilitating consultative forums and funding training and dialogues with different stakeholders including the EMBs, Political Parties, Government and Civil Society.
The International facilitator Sibongile Zimemo arrived in the country a week prior to the commencement of the workshop and a series of meetings were held with the ZEC in order to establish and agree on the Terms of Reference, conduct a needs analysis; develop the curriculum and agenda and obtain approval thereof and to outline and clarify issues. The facilitator assisted by three national facilitators Utloile Silaigwana, Faith Sebata and Rejoice Sibanda prepared the course materials and equipment. The ZEC staff assisted in the preparation and printing of the resources.
At the end of the training three semi-accredited facilitators; Utloile Silaigwana, Faith Sebata and Rejoice Sibanda successfully completed their field component and became fully accredited BRIDGE facilitations.
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.
The participants (24 participants: 17 males and 7 females) who are employed in various capacities in the Electoral Commission’s national office were selected on the basis of their experience and expertise as electoral administrators and others were selected due to their recent appointment to positions in the ZEC, therefore it was crucial to include them in the programme as part of the ongoing induction process. They 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.
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 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 including those with a language barrier managed overcome this challenge due to the support given by peers and facilitators.
The course commenced on day 1 with an opening and welcome by Utloile Silaigwana Deputy CEO at the ZEC followed by the speeches from the International facilitator Sibongile Zimemo who represented BRIDGE. Subsequently the programme commenced with presentations on the background of BRIDGE, the teaching methodology behind it and the Learning Outcomes of the course. The guest speaker Mr Lovemore Chimpunza Sekeramai CEO of the Electoral Commission of the Zimbabwe could only make it on day three where he delivered inspiring speech and officially opened the programme.
Various techniques, including Group Work; Mini lectures and Case Studies were applied to deliver the BRIDGE content. Throughout the programme participants and facilitators conducted icebreakers 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 the CEO.