In May 2009, EISA's Elections and Political Processes, as part of it's support for civil society electoral initiatives, held a workshop for African CSOs. The workshop was conducted by EISA, as a member of a joint partnership between International IDEA and other partners of the Network for Enhanced Electoral and Democratic Support (NEEDS) III project. The project aimed at training civil society actors from selected countries which are beneficiaries of the European Union (EU) electoral assistance.
The training focused on consolidating election observation methodology in line with international and regional standards and to improve civil society observers' capabilities through the development of a common approach in the recruitment and training of observers. The workshop took place in May 2009 in Randburg, South Africa, and was conducted for representatives of CSOs involved in citizen observation in their respective countries from Botswana, Sudan, Kenya, Mozambique, Burundi, Ghana, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, Algeria, Cameroon, Chad, Liberia, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
EISA held a training workshop on election observation for representatives of CSOs from Africa. Participants were drawn from Botswana, Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia. The objective of the workshop was to ensure that African CSOs gradually develop a common approach in election observation as well as to ensure that electoral observation in Africa has a real impact on the democratic development agenda.
The workshop took place in August 2009 in Johannesburg, South Africa. By the end of the training, participants indicated that they had gained a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the value of EISA's election observation methodology.
Jul & Nov 2008
EISA believes that electoral processes on the continent stand a better chance of credibility and improvement if they are closely observed by the people of the countries in which they take place. To achieve this, EISA has placed emphasis on supporting civil society organisations in their efforts to conduct domestic election observation.
Over the period under review, EISA's Elections and Political Processes, as part of it's support for civil society electoral initiatives, held a workshop focused on the improvement of communication systems and regional standards for elections and was held in Lilongwe, Malawi in November 2008, and was attended by representatives from SADC, Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire. As a result of this workshop, domestic observers in Swaziland were recognised as important stakeholders in the process and accredited to observe the 2008 elections. It is encouraging to note that domestic election observation in the SADC region has moved from simply being part of the lexicon to making a real impact.
In Botswana, EISA's Elections and Political Processes, as part of it's support for civil society electoral initiatives, provided technical and financial support to the Botswana Electoral Support Network (BESNET) which is made up of members of the SADC-ESN. EISA supported BESNET in developing a training and deployment strategy for monitoring the Botswana Parliamentary and Local Government Elections held on 30 October 2004. In addition EISA also provided materials for use in the training of observers. BESNET deployed 300 observers during the elections.
EISA's Elections and Political Processes, as part of it's support for civil society electoral initiatives, has contributed to enhancing the capacity of civil society organisations in the region to plan and conduct election observation mission. Each of the networks that EPP has worked with was able to develop good quality training manuals for the training of election observers. They were also able to plan, assemble and deploy professionally sound citizen election observation missions.
These organisations have become bolder in their approach to election observation and their increasingly effective participation in election reform debates.
All the civil society organisations which directly benefited from the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the SADC Region (PEMMO) training have used it in designing their election observation checklists as well as training their observers. This has led to a great deal of incorporation of PEMMO principles into the actual work of domestic observer groups. Indeed, the signs are that most of the election stakeholders in the region are aware of the principles and some have started to incorporate it into manuals, training materials and assessment tools. A wave of electoral reforms will hopefully close the circle by ensuring that the benchmarks set in PEMMO influence new laws positively.
EISA has been able to provide technical and financial support to civil society actors in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Mozambique to ensure their participation in observing elections in their respective countries. The rationale is to ensure the existence of strong civil society whilst promoting the use of PEMMO as the election assessment tool by domestic groups. EISA believes that locally-based organisations are best placed to ensure the entrenchment of the election principles espoused by PEMMO.
Under this project, EISA helped many civil society actors design training material, took part in training observers and assisted them with the logistical and substantive arrangements of the actual observation exercise, as well as reporting on their observations. Aside from the contribution to designing material and training trainers for the South African elections, as a member of the national South African Civil Society Observation Coalition, EISA provided office space and jointly co-ordinated Gauteng observers with the South African Council of Churches.