To assist the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeded on in September 2011, EISA has undertaken training workshops and conferences on a variety of subjects for various political actors, including CSOs, political parties, security forces, media people and others.
EISA and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) held a big conference on the theme "Comparative Experience on Referendum and Election Related Conflicts" at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare from 18th to 19th February 2013. In order to proactively address the causes of election related conflicts ahead of the referendum and elections, ZEC is cooperating with statutory and non-statutory institutions charged with the management of conflict in Zimbabwe. These include the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), Organ on National Healing Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). It is under the auspices of this cooperation that the conference was held.
The purpose of the Conference was therefore to address the problem of violent election-related conflict in with a view to understanding its external and internal causes, magnitude and consequences for democratic governance. Some of the important questions which the conference looked at were and not limited to: Do electoral stakeholders have faith in the constitutional, legal and institutional framework for elections? How do the electoral stakeholders relate to each other? Is there a code of conduct governing the behaviour of key actors? How enforceable is the code? Do stakeholders respect the code? Besides formal mechanisms, what alternative dispute resolution mechanisms exist to deal with conflicts timeously? Contributions on best practices from across the SADC region and the continent were made by invited expert.
A total of 141 participants from various stakeholders attended the conference. The stakeholders included:
EISA Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) jointly conducted a conflict management training workshop for Directors of Elections of 20 political parties including the three in the power-sharing government. The two-day training workshop was held in Bulawayo on 31st July to 1st August 2012. Participants were trained on conflict and its manifestations, conflict progression, escalation and de-escalation and on effective strategies for managing election-related conflicts. Through a participatory approach, participants identified causes of election-related conflicts in Zimbabwe and learned skills on how such conflicts can be managed prior to, during and after the referendum and elections. Both EISA and ZEC targeted the Directors of Elections as they are the ones who are directly in charge of their parties' election machinery. The office of the Registrar General (RG) was also invited to make a presentation on the status of the voter registration process to the parties.The trained parties are:
The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the EISA organised a Roundtable between ZEC, the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police on 19th June 2012. The purpose of this Roundtable was to accord these institutions an opportunity to explore synergies in managing election related conflicts in the run up to the referendum and elections in Zimbabwe. All these institutions have conflict management as part of their mandate and EISA and ZEC wanted to ensure that there was not going to be duplication of efforts particularly because they will be dealing with the same constituency-the electorate. During the Roundtable, each institution made a presentation on what it was doing and plans to do in the future as far as conflict management is concerned.
The output of this Roundtable was the identification of common areas of interest and possible cooperation. The Roundtable culminated in the creation of a Joint Committee consisting of officials from all the institutions mentioned above. This Committee will serve to coordinate the efforts of the respective institutions and prepare for their engagement with government on the dire need for their funding so as to be able to carryout their mandate. The Roundtable ended with a joint declaration by these institutions to work together in preventing conflict prior to, during and after the referendum and elections.
Resource persons were: 1) Dr. Clever Nyathi (National University of Science & Technology (NUST))) who presented on "the Causes of election related conflict: Regional Experiences"; 2) Mrs Georgina Chikoko (Former Commissioner of the Malawi Electoral Commission) who presented on "Management of election related conflicts: Experiences from the SADC region and; 3) Reverend Gift Moerane (South African Council of Churches) who shared the South African experiences of mediating election related conflicts.
EISA Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) jointly conducted a conflict management workshop for ZECs senior management including Commissioners, Directors and Provincial Electoral Officials on 22nd June 2012. A total of 45 managers participated at the workshop which was meant to enhance the capacity of ZEC to manage election related conflicts particularly as it prepares to organise the much anticipated referendum and elections. EISA had invited IEC South Africa to share its experiences on conflict management with emphasis on Conflict Management Panels (CMPs) and Multiparty Liaison Committees (MPLCs).
The Western Cape Province Provincial Electoral Officer (PEO) Reverend Courtney Sampson was delegated by IEC South Africa to deliver a presentation at the workshop. The participants were trained on conceptual understanding of conflict, its manifestations and causes of election related conflicts. Zimbabwean causes of election related conflicts were discussed with the participants and they were invited to suggest remedies for these causes. The output of the workshop was that participants came up with concrete suggestion on how ZEC can deal with election related conflicts.
An important outcome of a 2011 consultative workshop was the review by participants of the existing code of conduct for political parties contained in the current electoral law. Parties made recommendations, including consideration for the introduction of punitive measures for failure to adhere to the code to be included in the proposed amended Electoral Law. Participants expressed the view that this will go a long way in contributing to the deterrence of electoral malpractices that have characterised the Zimbabwean electoral scene for the past decade. Following this workshop, regular meetings have been scheduled to continue the dialogue and to keep the space open for information sharing and tabling issues of common concern. This consultative forum has laid the ground for ongoing consultations between ZEC and political parties in the run up to the referendum and elections where multi-party liaison committees will be re-established once the election date is set.