In less than 24-hours, the people of Zambia will be heading to the polls. To decide the future of the young and old, at the largely anticipated General Elections.
The 2021 Zambian General Elections takes place at the backfoot of a highly contested campaign season which has seen many civilians pursuing the freedom to practice their democratic right to vote. Some calling for leadership all Zambians can feel represented by and many groups advocating for the implementation of policies that respond to the realities of women and youth who form a majority number of the population of Zambia.
Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) Chief of Party Dr. Augustine Magolowondo leads the DWF team who are in Zambia on an election observation mission. He takes time to reflect on the involvement of DWF in the lead-up to the General Elections, through the Southern Africa Political Parties and Dialogue (SAPP&D) program. A program whose work is to strengthen the capacity for political parties to be better organized, institutionalized, and more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations.
“Zambia is one of the six countries in Southern Africa in which DWF is working within the framework of the SAPP&D Programme that I oversee. The elections in Zambia are of great interest to us at DWF as they take place in our partner programme country. While there are several stakeholders that play an important role in contributing to a successful, peaceful, and credible elections, it is indisputable that political parties and candidates have a vital role”.
Dr. Magolowondo mentions that the pollical parties are key players in the work done by DWF through the SAPPP&D program.
“For parties and candidates, elections are a period during which they have the opportunity to reaffirm their interest to contest as well as demonstrate the extent to which they represent and reflect the needs and aspirations of the electorate. Thus, to parties and candidates, the elections are the climax of competition between and among the electoral contestants in their efforts to win votes”.
Leading up to the election, DWF Regional team and Zambia country team, has facilitated a series of cross-party training workshops. The workshops were aimed at building capacities for political parties in Zambia to participate in the elections and electoral process meaningfully and constructively.
“One of the areas of support in this regard included building capacities of political parties in Zambia to undertake a well-organized systematic and comprehensive poll watching exercise. This support included facilitating a strategic planning workshop on poll watching, developing training materials as well as training master trainers on poll watching for political parties. The workshop was conducted with the active involvement and support of Party coordinators”.
These coordinators are party leaders with a mandate, from their respective political parties, to work with DWF in the entire poll watching capacity-building initiative. Subsequently, the master trainers cascaded the training downstream within their respective political parties targeting actual polling agents that the parties would deploy as part of their election monitoring exercise.
In addition to capacitating political parties, prior to the elections, DWF has deployed an election observation mission to Zambia, an unprecedented move pioneered by DWF which Dr. Magolowondo has described as a continuation of DWFs efforts toward building capacities for political parties to meaningfully engage electoral processes including election monitoring.
The six-member mission in Zambia comprise of: Dr. Magolowondo the Chief of Party and mission leader, Mr. Olmo von Meijenfeldt the Executive Director of DWF, Ms. Fannie Nthakomwa the Senior Technical Advisor and Zambian Country Director, Ms. Talent Mathuthu the Regional Programme Manager, Ms. Natasha Mutumba the Country Project Manager as well as, Kunda Bulaya, the Country Programme Assistant, Zambia.
While hard at work Dr. Magolowondo admits that the work done by DWF took the effort of a team who shared and invested in the vision to realize the development of democratic culture in Zambia.
“The focus of DWF’s election observation mission is to observe and appreciate the extent to which political parties utilize the knowledge, skills, and experiences as shared during the aforementioned training workshops. DWF’s team will assess how political parties have deployed their party agents or officials, how those party agents and or officials carry out their responsibilities, and how other stakeholders such as the Electoral Management Body (EMB) officials will appreciate the way political parties are executing their election monitoring responsibilities”.
The DWF team will visit a selected number of polling stations as well as constituency totaling centers including the national results center at Mulungushi.
“DWFs observations will be instrumental in guiding DWFs programming on similar interventions going forward. These observations will contribute towards an observation report that is shared with relevant stakeholders including political parties, Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and development partners”.
Dr. Magolowondo adds to his list of successes in the SAPP&D program that the team has been accredited to monitor the entire process from opening, polling, closing, counting, tallying, and results from the transmission as well as announcements at the national results Centre.
By preparing for the future, in the present day, Dr. Magolowondo attributes DWF’s work as an investment into a successful General Election and the realisation of an effective democracy, post-election, for the Zambian people.
To learn more about the work of DWF in Zambia, visit the Democracy Works Foundation website www.democracyworksfoundation.org.
Follow DWF across its social media platforms to witness the events leading up to the Zambia General Election and to learn more about the efforts of DWF to ensure that this is election civilians and politicians alike can take pride in.