Sustainable democracy is inconceivable without political parties. Multiparty democracy is dependent on the existence of well-functioning political parties, a conducive electoral environment and rules that enhance the effective participation of all political stakeholders in the electoral process. Political parties are particularly crucial actors as they are the only stakeholders that participate in elections with the sole purpose of winning or retaining power. Because of this, how political parties engage and participate in electoral processes, the issues they deal with, the challenges they encounter, and the way they interact with various stakeholders have a significant influence on the way elections are held. As political parties engage in electoral processes, they generate lessons and experiences that, if systematically considered, can inform broad and strategic discussions that can improve the conduct of future elections in particular and the democratisation agenda of the country in general.
In August 2021, Zambia held its seventh general election since the return to multiparty democracy in 1991. Like in the previous election held in 2016, political parties had to engage in and deal with several issues related to their participation in these elections. These, among others, included campaign funding, selection of candidates, mobilisation of voters, compliance with electoral laws and regulations, application of the Public Order Act, election monitoring, and engaging with other electoral stakeholders, particularly the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). Another critical issue in the 2021 elections was the Covid 19 restrictions, which impacted the electoral environment in many ways.
Democracy Works Foundation (DWF), with the support of USAID, has been implementing a Southern African Political Parties and Dialogue (SAPP&D) Programme in Zambia amongst other countries, including Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Malawi. The programme aims to strengthen political parties’ institutional capacities to play a more effective role in responding to people’s needs and aspirations. In addition, the programme also contributes to the building of capacities of political parties for their meaningful participation in elections and the electoral processes.
It is against this background that DWF has organised a one-and-a-half-day workshop that will bring together political parties and other relevant stakeholders. The overall goal is for political parties and the selected stakeholders to identify and reflect on lessons and experiences drawn from the political parties’ participation in the 2021 general elections, to inform and inspire areas of improvement and reforms for future elections. Considering that effective participation of political parties in elections and electoral processes is impacted upon by the legal framework guiding the management and administration of elections in a particular country, this reflection will also be strategic in identifying areas that may require reform for purposes of contributing to the improvement of elections management and participation of political parties in future.
Specifically, the objectives of the workshop are:
- To provide political parties with a platform through which they can reflect on how they prepared for and participated in the 2021 elections with the view to identifying party-specific areas of improvement for future elections
- To provide political parties and other stakeholders, especially the ECZ, with an opportunity to identify areas of improvement concerning stakeholder’s management and engagement
- To identify specific areas in the election process and the legal framework that merit reforms based on 2021 experiences
- To provide political party assistance providers and implementers such as DWF with an opportunity to identify and reflect on lessons that can inform future programming in strengthening political parties’ capacities to participate in electoral processes meaningfully.
The workshop is targeting participants from political parties and other relevant stakeholders that include:
- Political Parties that currently are participating in the USAID/DWF supported SAPP&D programme: Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), New Hope Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND)
- Political parties that fielded candidates in the presidential, parliamentary, mayoral and local government elections in the 2021 General Elections: Socialist Party (SP), Democratic Party (DP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), People’s Alliance for Change (PAC), Party for National Unity and Progress (PNUP), United National Independence (UNIP), Patriots for Economic Progress (PEP)
- DWF’s partner CSOs as well as other relevant institutions that are working on capacity building for political parties in Zambia: ActionAid, NDI, Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL), CYLA, ZCID, CCMG, USAID, UNDP, FCDO and the EU
- The workshop will also draw on the experiences of the following public institutions: the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), the Ministry of Justice, the Zambia Law Development Commission and the Zambia Police.
Participation in this workshop is strictly by invitation.
For further information:
Ms Natasha Mutumba, DWF Country Project Manager