In building political parties capacities to develop evidence-based policies that are responsive to People’s needs and aspirations” in Southern Africa.
Political parties are institutions that aggregate citizens’ needs and concerns and translate these into practical and implementable programs that benefit them (the citizens) within national and local legal, budgetary and policy frameworks. By implication, this means that democracies require solid and sustainable political parties that are vibrant, well institutionalised, and have the required core capacities and competencies to design programmes, systems, and policies that can meaningfully translate the people’s aspirations into tangible reality. However, political parties in southern Africa face a number of challenges that include limited capacities for them to meaningfully conceptualise and implement responsive policies. In many instances, programmatic and issues-based politics remain a distant reality in many African political parties.
Against this background, the Democracy Works Foundation (DWF), with funding from the International Republican Institute (IRI), is implementing a three-month-long initiative. This seeks to build capacities of political parties that would allow them (the parties) to be developing evidence-based policies that are responsive to societal needs and aspirations. As part of this initiative, DWF will facilitate a series of virtual training workshops from 10th to 18th March 2022 to strengthen political parties’ research capacities. The themes covered in these workshops include data fundamentals, data collection, data storage, analysis, and presentation. It is expected that at the end of this training, participants will be able to demonstrate the basic research skills for data fundamentals; know the process of data collection and storage; be able to visualise, analyse and present data as well as better understand the role of data in policy and decision making. The training workshops target parliamentary political parties from Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.
For DWF, this initiative complements an ongoing five year (2017-2022) Southern Africa Political Parties and Dialogue (SAPP&D) Programme that is funded by USAID Southern Africa. The SAPP&D Programme seeks to build capacities of political parties in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Zambia to be well organised and better functioning for them to be more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations. The SAPP&D Programme is also working with and supporting the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in Eswatini to improve election administration in that country, particularly in enhancing the political participation of women. Initiatives such as the SAPP&D Programme and the training mentioned earlier are some of the ways how DWF is contributing to the realisation of its mandate of building resilient and socially inclusive democracies in southern Africa.