Election stakeholders undergo poll integrity training

Participants of the ongoing Building Resources in Democracy, Governance, and Elections (BRIDGE) programme in Harare. Picture by Kennedy Nyavaya

THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has organised a two-week workshop to equip election stakeholders with relevant skills to fortify the country’s democratic space.

The workshop, which opened in Harare on Monday, is part of ZESN’s Building Resources in Democracy, Governance, and Elections (BRIDGE) programme.

Jointly funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), International IDEA, Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), and The United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UNDPPA), the workshop is designed to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders. 

Participants include representatives from Chapter 12 institutions such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and civil society organisations (CSOs). 

"This workshop represents an invaluable opportunity for us to come together to collectively deepen our understanding, to learn, share experiences, and to build the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate complexities of advancing democracy,” ZESN chairperson Andrew Makoni said during the opening session.

Makoni also said that the space would serve as a crucial platform for reviewing how Zimbabwe conducted its August 2023 general elections, with stakeholders gaining some in-depth knowledge of the BRIDGE programme.

“At the end of the day it is our hope that we strengthen relationships, improve our communication as stakeholders as well as improve our management skills going to the 2028 elections,” he said.

“My view is that this is a train-the- trainer-facilitated workshop (and) my view is that the trained resources will then be deployed in the country and train others so that there is greater appreciation of electoral processes by everyone.”

Since its inception in 2002, BRIDGE has made a global impact, training over 19 000 facilitators worldwide and is renowned for its modular professional development approach, with a laser focus on upholding electoral integrity. 

UNDP chief technical advisor, Vincent Da Cruz described BRIDGE as a groundbreaking collaboration, which adds to the institution’s past efforts towards peace and electoral justice

“BRIDGE represents a unique initiative where five leading organisations in the democracy and governance field have jointly committed to developing, implementing and maintaining the most comprehensive curriculum and workshop package available, designed to be used as a tool within a broader capacity development framework,” he said.

“We continue this work this year, including  through BRIDGE. UNDP is planning to support a series of BRIDGE workshops that ZEC ( Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) intends to  implement later this year and we look forward to continuing this work together with all the organisations represented here.”

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