31 July 2015

Strategic and Financial and Planning

Planning for all activities in the Electoral Cycle is a crucial aspect of all administrative processes of any EMB. The fact that most EMBs are permanent makes this exercise all the more important. While Elections are the most important projects that the EMB is mandated to administer; during the low intensity periods in-between Elections, EMBs embark on various activities such as finding avenues to strengthen the organization, reviewing of the legislation and possibly introducing new technologies and liaising and educating relevant stakeholders during the post electoral phase. During the pre-electoral phase it is expected that the EMB put all measures in place to prepare for elections and extensively and vigorously embark on various outreach programmes in order to provide access to the processes for all stakeholders.

It is therefore pertinent for the EMBs to have a strategic plan for all activities on the electoral cycle and for each EMB, depending on their sources of funding be it government, aid organisations or other and depending on the consistency of the funding and agreements decide whether their plan would be project output based, consolidated planning and budgeting approach or a new electoral cycle planning and budget forecast approach.

Electoral Technology

Electronic democracy is becoming a big issue worldwide with many EMBS considering the introduction of Electronic registration and Electronic Voting. With many EMBs in Africa moving towards Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system, it is no surprise that the Malawi Electoral Commission like most countries in the SADC region would follow suit.

It is however important to note that introducing new technology may hinder the process of administering free and fair elections if the EMB fails to conduct a thorough research and study of the conditions in the country in terms of relevant infrastructure, sourcing of funding and levels of literacy etc. Furthermore, upon choosing and acquiring the new technology the EMB should embark on extensive public outreach programmes in order to rigorously educate all relevant stakeholders as the implementation of new electoral technology systems may well assist the EMB to effectively manage the processes however at the same time if not properly managed, many eligible voter may be excluded from accessing the process.  

The strategic and Financial Planning and Electoral Technology Module workshop

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in conjunction with International IDEA, the African Union Commission and GIZ organised a workshop on two BRIDGE Modules – Strategic and Financial Planning and Electoral Technology on 29 June 03 July 2015 in Liwonde, Malawi

A joint collaboration was established between International IDEA and the African Union Commission and GIZ with the aim to develop capacity for the officials of various EMBs for effective management of all Electoral processes and administrative activities. This workshop is part of the Joint Activity Plan – JAP Project between the three afore-mentioned organisations where a series of capacity development workshops are organised and conducted throughout Anglophone and Francophone countries in Africa.

This workshop is one in a series of capacity development workshops that are planned as part of the training strategy with for the purpose of ensuring that EMB staff have the necessary skills and expertise to develop and implement strategies that will ensure that mandate of administering free and fair elections is carried out efficiently.

Malawi Electoral Commission hosted the workshop; GIZ, The AU and IDEA provided the funding for the project including accommodation and subsistence and travel for the participants and consultancy fees for the Lead facilitator. 

Strategic and Financial Planning: A 3-day programme was designed and customised to suit the needs of the EMB. The participants were taken through an intensive programme, in order to understand the importance of Planning especially Financial planning of all the projects in the Electoral Cycle and the importance of establishing and maintaining good relationships with various departments in the EMB and Donors to whom the EMB is accountable as far as the funds obtained from them and for the purpose of ensuring free and fair and cost-effective Elections while each role player understands and appreciate the challenges experienced by the different stakeholders during the Electoral processes.

Electoral Technology: A 2-day programme was designed in order to give the participants a broader and global perspective on electoral technologies used in different countries.

Various activities were carefully selected from the Strategic and Financial Planning Module and Electoral Technology Module. The facilitators also put emphasis on the issues of Access, Gender and Integrity as cross-cutting themes for the modules and other relevant guiding principles were mentioned whenever it was necessary to do so.

Upon successful completion of the course, the participants received Certificates of Completion.

Duncan Jumbe from Malawi Electoral Commission was accredited during this workshop.

A few comments from the Participants about what they learnt during the workshop…..

“The insights enlightened me more in several topics and aspects by providing    more information and examples – new understanding gained” Deverson N.L. Makwete – Warehouse Manager

 Team Bonding. Though I am familiar with most topics raised, it was refreshing to be reminded on some topics” Muhabi Chisi – Director of ICT

“Importance of Planning and also Processes/Steps to follow when introducing new Technologies” Khumbo Phiri – Director of Finance

“How to formulate a Strategic Plan” Stanley Billiat – Commissioner

“Financial Management Implications of the Electoral Cycle” Lellie Brian Longwe – Deputy Chief Elections Officer (Finance and Administration)

 “My expections were met” Harris Potani – Deputy Chief Elections Officer (Operations)

Congratulations to Duncan!

I thank the host; Malawi Electoral Commission and the organisers and sponsors of the programme; International IDEA the African Union Commission and GIZ, the facilitators and participants; wishing you everything of the best in all your endeavours.

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