Introduction to Zambia

22 January 2013

In addressing an identified need, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Zambia,  organised a training workshop for new members and senior staff of ECZ from 17-19 December, 2012, in Lusaka, Zambia.  

In an effort to build capacity in election management in the organisation, the Electoral Commission of Zambia, as administrators of democratic processes has identified a need to orientate staff members on their roles and responsibilities. The ECZ, because of legislative prescripts has a fluid executive and secretariat resulting from the brevity of their term of office.  This scenario has given rise to a need for structured orientation for new Commissioners to enable them to appreciate and understand their roles as well as the role of the commission.

The three-day training workshop was organised with the primary aim of introducing newly appointed ECZ Commissioners and senior staff to the mechanics, principles and good practices in the electoral field and equip them with knowledge and skills to carry out their new responsibilities with integrity, professionalism, transparency and accountability. Furthermore, it was anticipated that the training workshop would enhance peer learning and networking among ECZ members as they interacted with facilitators, resource persons as well as other members who have been in the commission longer, who possess a wealth of information and expertise in the field of governance, democracy and elections.  The overall goal of the training was to enhance the credibility and capacity of the ECZ to promote transparent, credible and peaceful elections.

The preparatory phase commenced two months prior to the workshop which included:
• Conducting a needs assessment for the identified target audience.
• Developing a customised agenda in consultation with the ECZ.
• Identifying resource persons to augment the course content and enrich the delivery of the material.
• Maintaining continuous communication with resource persons, facilitators and the ECZ throughout the period leading up to the workshop.

Abriefing session with all facilitators and resource persons took place a day before at the workshop venue. The facilitating team comprised of one accrediting facilitator and two seasoned Workshop Facilitatores and five resource persons with expertise on various aspects of governance, democracy and elections. 

Facilitators included:

• Taona E Mwanyisa (Workshop Facilitator) based in Zambia
• Bridget M Masuluke (Workshop Facilitator), South Africa
• Tomsie P Dlamini (Accrediting Facilitator) from South Africa

A total of twenty (20) participantsfrom senior management of the Electoral Commission of Zambia including the Chairperson, Justice Justice Irene C Mambilima, Commissioners Minerva K Tembo, Dr Frederick Ng’andu And Hon. Justice Christopher S. Mushabati.   Three UNDP staff also participated in the workshop.  Senior management were drawn from the different departments of the Commission.  Of the twenty members, six (6) were female while fourteen (14) were male. The participants’ experience in Electoral administration specifically within ECZ ranged between three weeks to twenty three years.
The breakdown of participants was as follows: four commissioners, the legal counsel, the director, senior management representing IT, Voter Education, Elections, Public Relations, Human Resources and Administration, Finance as well as UNDP.

The participants were afforded an opportunity to apply the BRIDGE curriculum through a variety of activities, namely, debates, syndicate work, working in pairs, overnight individual activities, throughout the training programme. Icebreakers played a major role forteam-building. At the commencement of the workshop, participants went through an exercise in which they mentioned the number of experience in years that they have in electoral administration. The facilitators tallied these, and it was observed that there was a total of 230 years worth of expereince in governance, democracy and elections. Facilitators pleaded with participants to share the knowledge and experience even beyond the classroom to ensure that all participants benefitted from the wealth of knowledge. Participants outlined their expectations for the duration of the workshop and were taken through an overview of the three day programme. Workshop expectations were revisited at the end of the three day session.
The contents of the presentations for day one were deliberated upon and participants given an opportunity to engage facilitators on same. The first topic on Historical Trends in Election Management described the changes in challenges faced by EMBs over time, defining election management bodies, types of EMBs, and the mandates and the scope of work facing an EMB. It  further tackled principles of election management that have been developed over more than 20 years of elections globally. It also explored as scenarios with ethical dilemmas. Participants were able to reflect on their own trends as compared to those within SADC and outside.
Participants were also exposed to International Electoral Instruments and obligations. This session covered the international legal instruments and obligations that have developed over time to underpin concepts such as free and fair elections, regular elections and secrecy of the ballot. It referred to global, continental and regional instruments and obligations. In doing so the session was able to examine the conditions conducive to the holding of credible and transparent elections. This was also brought to the home setup for participants to compare, contrast and reflect on the impact of these international electoral instruments on the Zambian electoral laws.
It was through the session that covered the Evolution of Electoral laws in Zambia and its Electoral Systems that the participants were able to reflect on where the country comes from in relation to electoral laws. It was noted that a lot has been achieved in the management of elections facilitated by the legal reforms governing elections however, there is still room to revisit the current laws to ensure that the work of the Commission is more effective and efficient. The session covered the electoral laws in Zambia, basics of voting systems in general, their defining characteristics and the basics of electoral reform. The broad overview of the different electoral systems used in the SADC region was presented and elaborated upon mainly regarding their advantages and disadvantages. A special focus was placed on the electoral system in Zambia.
The session on Electoral Cycle, Electoral Calenders, Planning and Logistics introduced to the participants the concept of the electoral cycle, its development and application over time, as well as matching election calendars to the cycle. Building on the planning aspect of election management, the session explored aspects of planning constraints and project management. Participants realised the importance of election calendars as an essential tool to planning building in risk assessments and mitigation plans in the process.

The session that aroused a lot of interest among participants as they indicated for the day was on Professional Electoral Management and Sustainability. The session covered the development of professional culture in elections, international support/assistance provisions, events and forums, EMB networks, codes of conduct, capacity building and online resources for further learning such as BRIDGE and ACE Electoral Knowledge Network.
The day ended with a closing ceremony, both UNDP and ECZ gave their closing addresses, commending the facilitators for a well delivered training course. They both indicated the thirst within the commission to have additional modular courses as that was just an introduction. The Director of Elections, also echoed the sentiments that the course was more than just an introduction as they were equiped with knowledge and skills to deliver when they go back to their workstations.

During the evaluation session, participants indicated the need for more time to have been allocated as the three days were not adequate based on the information and activities that they were undertaking. Participants indicated that the exercises on the legacy that they would want to leave for their EMB got them thinking and revived their passion for their work. The participants that were exposed to the BRIDGE methodology for the first time indicated the need for similar kind of workshops to enhance their knowledge in elections. They applauded the facilitators for a well organised and enriching workshop. The interactive method of training was encouraged. Participants also indicated that key areas such as identification of key challenges for EMBs and mitigation strategies should have been given more time. The idea of comparing other SADC and Euoropean countries to ECZ was welcomed as it gave them a barometer to measure themselves.

The participants and facilitators benefited from the training workshop. Even though this was to be an introductory training, given the level of participants attending, it was pitched at a higher level. Participants would have benefited more should more time have been allocated. It was therefore recommended that additional modular workshops be arranged to equip all affected in electoral administration and leadership. The bridge methodology be adopted for future workshops to enhance effective participation.


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