EISA is implementing a project aimed at strengthening political parties as a way of contributing towards sustainable democracy in Lesotho. It is district based and 10 workshops are planned to take place throughout the country.
Political parties are expected to play a key role in the democratic process and the project aims to equip political parties in Lesotho with skills enabling them to effectively promote democracy in their country. It focuses on capacity building through training workshops covering thematic areas such as gender representation in political parties; internal organisation; management and functioning of parties; leadership qualities within political parties as well as conflict and conflict management.
The project builds upon earlier political party projects and activities conducted by EISA in Lesotho in order to further strengthen parties for sustainable democracy. Previous activities include research on democratic consolidation, democratic governance, public outreach programmes and dialogue on political party capacity needs as well as its Election Update series and the deployment of a regional election observation mission under the leadership of Sir Ketumile Masire, former President of Botswana.
This project is a collaboration between EISA and the Lesotho Council for Non Governmental Organisations (LCN). It is funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).
Using the material developed in 2015 and refined from experiance in South Africa and Botswana, the dialogue was held on 8 and 9 March 2016 in Maseru, Lesotho. Though the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) and erstwhile ruling party did not attend fragments of its partners in opposition coalition did. Fifteen participants, six of whom were women, from six political parties, including the current ruling Democratic Congress (DC) as well as the Patriotic Front for Democracy (PFD), Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), Lesotho Workers party (LWP), Basutoland African National Congress (BANC) and the All Democratic Corporation (ADC) attended. Out of the 15 participants,nine were below the age of 35 and six were women.
The dialogue focused on the nature of the political system and current political impasse. It was noted amongst many participants that the roots of political conflict is the Constitution and the excessive concentration of powers in the Executive with inordinate powers conferred on the Prime Minister. The workshop was thus able to tease out key problems that serve to entrench a conflictual environment. While the absence of the main opposition was a weakness of the dialogue, the information gleaned is sufficiently rich not compromise the integrity of the report which will be produced over the next reporting period.
In 2014 EISA partnered with the NGO Youth Lab, and developed a comprehensive set of training materials titled "Understanding the Youth and Youth Sensitive Budgetting" Using this information, the following workshops were conducted in partnership with Youth Lab:
Positive feedback was given for the workshop with great interest expressed in the content and topics. Participants indicated that this was the first time they had interrogated issues of budgeting from a youth perspective.
A second set of materials were developed on poll watching for training political party poll watchers to the Lesotho 28 February parliamentary elections. EISA prepared materials for political party agents on their role and functions, as well as materials on understanding the Lesotho electoral process, system and laws. These manuals were printed in both English and Sesotho. The materials were widely used by parties for internal briefing purposes.
On 19 February 2015, EISA conducted a one day training session for political parties in Lesotho on poll watching for party agents. Originally, this was to be jointly conducted with the IEC Lesotho based on an MOU, due to its capacity constraints and election preparation challenges, the Lesotho IEC was unable to commit to jointly executing this activity but nevertheless shared information and material with EISA. The workshop was attended by ten (10) participants from the four main parties, namely the LPC, BDNP, ABC, and RCL. The training was successfully evaluated by the participants and the training materials used to conduct briefings for party agents within parties.
Pursuant to extensive training workshops conducted in Botswana in 2011, support to political parties continued in 2012 through the provision of training workshops which were held in Lesotho at Leribe and Maseru. The first series of workshops attracted 21 participants drawn from the four main parties in Lesotho, the Democratic Congress (DC), All Bashotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), and Bathsotho National Party (BNP), while the second workshop attracted 27 participants drawn from the four main parties, as well as observer delegates from local civil society organisations.
To date, the EISA programme remains the only programme with an explicit and dedicated focus on political parties in the region, and particularly in the three countries in which the project is implemented. Support to political parties in 2011 was anchored in two separate, albeit complementary, projects which began in 2010:
EISA implemented a followup project called Supporting Political Parties' Internal Organisation and Capacity in the SADC Region in Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa, building on the successes of EISA's previous political party support projects in these countries. New dimensions to the project are the development of political party benchmarks and technical assistance and facilitation of internal elections within parties.
EISA adopted two separate but complementary approaches in the process of formulating benchmarks for political parties:
The benchmarks reflected the role which political parties played as well as addressed, through their own contributions, how parties in Africa ought to be institutionalized. EISA developed the benchmarks by convening a series of dialogues to canvass party input for the standards and indicators comprising the benchmarks.
The political parties programme created a platform for the often marginalised structures within parties, such as the women and youth leagues, to gain a better understanding of their own political parties and their affairs. More than two thirds of participants in workshops across the three countries in which the progamme was conducted were women. This is due to EISA's insistence to parties to ensure representation of women and youth as participants in all the workshops. It must be emphasised that the programme remains the only one of its kind in the countries in which it is implemented.
EISA, for the first time, trained parties in the mountain districts of Lesotho, namely, Mohale's Hoek, Mafeteng, Qacha's Nek, Quthing and Thaba-Tseka where participants were located in often inaccessible places. Most of the participants were people who usually do not get first hand information because of their location. The programme therefore succeeded in breaking the internal and external barriers to their learning. The five training workshops were in collaboration with the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN).
The Governance Institutions and Processes Department's Political Parties Unit successfully implemented three projects under the Political Parties Programme, to promote party development at strategic, organisational and structural levels by developing leadership through youth and women empowerment and by equipping party leaders with the skills to represent the interests of their constituents in an effective and democratic manner. These were:
A Political Parties Programme Handbook was published as a tool for the development of country specific training manuals and presentations can be developed. The six modules covered are: political parties; leadership; public outreach; party coalitions/alliances; and conflict management. Activities carried out in 2008 focused on workshops for ruling and opposition parties in Lesotho, South Africa and Sudan through partnerships with the Netherlands Institute for Multi-party Democracy (NIMD), the University of Bergen (UiB), and the Swedish Christian Democratic International Centre (KIC).
A workshop was conducted for parties in Lesotho under the second phase of the capacity building project for 13 political parties in April 2008.
Two training manuals, Managing Intra-party and Inter-party Conflict in Lesotho: Training Manual and Promoting Intraparty Democracy in Lesotho: Training manual for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Lesotho Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as well as for the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).
Using Managing Intra-party and Inter-party Conflict in Lesotho: Training Manual EISA and the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN) jointly conducted five training workshops in the districts of Maseru, Berea, Leribe, Butha-Buthe and Mokhotlong, focused on thematic areas such as gender representation in political parties, internal organisation, management and functioning of parties, leadership qualities within political parties as well as conflict and conflict management. About 150 participants from 13 out of the 19 registered parties in Lesotho attended these workshops.
EISA conducted a training workshop for political parties in Maseru in October 2008 based on the Promoting Intraparty Democracy in Lesotho: Training manual. The training aimed at assisting parties in the prevention, management and resolution of conflict. The workshop was attended by senior party leaders from the 19 registered parties, the IEC and the UNDP.
An analysis by Fako Johnson Likoti, How Parties Fared in the 2007 Election: A Theoretical Exploration of the Outcome, was published Journal of African Elections Volume 7 Number 1, June: Special Issue: Elections and Democracy in Lesotho.