Angola has a poor history of encouraging and holding political debates. In pioneering a programme to open political spaces in the provinces, EISA created a platform for discussion around issues of democracy and opportunities for peer learning. EISA held 14 provincial conferences with a view to engaging the various Angolan electoral stakeholders in a constructive dialogue on peace and democracy-related issues. EISA involved the provincial governments who gave substantial administrative political support to the conferences. EISA mobilised parliamentarians, politicians, government officials, electoral management body (EMBs) officials, judicial officials, journalists, civil society members, security forces, church leaders and traditional leaders. Speakers were drawn from each of the groups of stakeholders. This was a manor component of EISA activities in Angola and proved very successful.
EISA facilitated several meetings and workshops that brought together various political parties to strategies on the positive role they should play in the electoral process. In January 2006, EISA invited all political stakeholders to a meeting to discuss what they would need in order to participate effectively in the electoral process, and to plan for the training of party poll-watchers. EISA agreed to facilitate training-of-trainers workshops and the parties would replicate these efforts.
Local groups organised into a national coalition, Civil Society Electoral Platform. The Electoral platform, composed of more than 100 local, provincial and national civil society groups, came together under EISA's support, to assist in the effort of civic education, observation and conflict prevention.
This effort, which started before the establishment of the office, took shape in 2004 and was consolidated in 2005. Matias Kapapelo of Angola 2000 and leader of one of the three major NGO coalitions was elected president. Seven other people representing the regions were also elected to the Electoral Platform's leadership. EISA has assisted them in the preparation of a strategy and work plan.
Once this platform was successfully constituted, EISA provided technical support to ensure its independent functioning and to ensure its effective long-term functioning, EISA partnered with other international groups, such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Open Society, to assist and support this newly-created entity. On a structural level, EISA has helped to mobilise Angolan civil society in order for them to make a credible contribution to the electoral process. The electoral Platform has since been a strong, unified, authoritative CS voice, analysing and monitoring the electoral process.
One of the Electoral Platform's major achievements was the successful deployment of 500 observers to monitor voter registration throughout the country.
In late 2004, after holding many formal and informal meetings with stakeholders, a final workshop was held in Luanda that formally concluded the consultation process. The event gathered organisations and individuals from Luanda and the provinces and discussed the best way for EISA's engagement in the electoral process.
The meeting allowed EISA to finalise the outline of its election programme in Angola, as agreed on by the participants.
Memoranda of understanding with key groups were drafted to guide the collaboration between organisations.
The Country Director then visited the provinces of Huila, Huambo and Bengo to discuss with local groups the possibility of supporting their initiatives. In the provinces, EISA held meetings with representatives of local governments, political parties, the media, traditional leaders and CSOs. All electoral groups welcomed EISA's presence in Angola and urged the organisation to work more in the provinces as a way of counter-balancing the current tendency of focusing excessively on Luanda at the expense of the countryside.