Zambian Political Parties Undergo Strategic Planning Training

Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) Zambia hosted four political parties in a two-day workshop to enhance their skills and knowledge on facilitating a strategic planning process for political parties. The workshop was held in Lusaka on 26-27 February 2020. The political parties attending the workshop included the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), the United Party for National Development (UPND), Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD).

The workshop took place under the DWF Southern Africa Political Parties and Dialogue (SAPP&D) programme.

The idea of supporting political parties to develop strategic plans was informed by findings from a capacity assessment and experiences from the region. DWF undertook a comprehensive assessment of the capacity of political parties in 2019, as part of the SAPP&D programme  The assessment offered the participating political parties an opportunity to undertake a facilitated self-assessment on   areas crucial to a party’s evolution into, or remaining, a vibrant democratic institution. One of the key findings of this assessment was the need for political parties to undertake strategic planning in order to have clearly defined roadmaps.

These processes aid and facilitate growth, institutional strengthening and strategic engagement in electoral processes and policy development.

The training workshop, facilitated by DWF’s Chief of Party Dr Augustine Magolowondo and Senior Technical Advisor and Zambia Country Director Ms Fannie Nthakomwa, included senior level political party members. These included Secretary Generals/National Secretaries or their deputies as well as National Chairpersons and Directors for various portfolios from the political parties.

In his vote of thanks, Reverend Jevan Kamanga, the Secretary for Information and Publicity Committee for the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), said:

“When we came in yesterday, I think all the teams were apprehensive. We didn’t know how we were going to treat one another. But today has been very different because we seem to drive in one direction after realizing we have a country to serve; and whatever we do with coming up with strategic plans, it is way beyond our political parties but ultimately to be a service to the nation. We came here with different expectations, but I can guarantee you that our expectations have been met.”

The other political parties agreed with these sentiments. Mr Malama Sokoni, the National Treasurer for the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), said:

“…this has been an eye opener for a lot of us. Normally we’ll come here with all these MBAs and all these Doctorates and we think ‘I’ve made it in as far as education is concerned’. But whoever has not learned anything in these past two days would not be truthful to themselves. This has been very good for us especially on behalf of my colleagues and more so from the period that we have come out of[1]. And with this period now behind us, we want to hit the ground running.  And there is no better way than with a strategic plan”.

The training workshop also provided an opportunity for political parties to engage each other objectively. At the onset, many were skeptical about bringing political parties in a cross-party set up, considering the increased political bickering as the country draws closer to elections.

” I’m pleasantly surprised at what has transpired. From the street talk that we get out there; I wouldn’t have expected this friendship that has been here. And I hope that this will translate on the streets there. We don’t want to see those pangas we hear about, and all those machetes. I mean look at this: he’s calling her ‘mother’, she’s calling him ‘son’, and they come from opposite sides where they are not even supposed to joke but now, they’re cousins. I’m very appreciative and I think this is a sign that Zambia has a future…. said the National Chairperson for the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), Hon Potiphar Chungu.

The Deputy Secretary General for the United Party for National Development (UPND), Hon Gertrude Imenda, added to this:

“This spirit, that’s how it should be. We have only one constituency and that is Zambia. There’s no need for the animosity and so on. And one of the reasons we get this kind of violence or misunderstanding, is because of the things that come out of our mouths. Let’s talk on issues, let’s not talk about personalities. We should not be practicing politics of personalities, Zambians are not interested in that, they are interested in the issues that affect Zambians. And all of us have got the responsibility to talk about such issues in a very relaxed and neutral and friendly atmosphere.”

Political parties are institutions that aggregate citizens’ needs and concerns and translate these into practical and implementable programmes. By implication, this means democracies require strong and sustainable political parties that are vibrant, well institutionalised, and have the requisite core capacities and competencies to design programmes, systems, and policies that can meaningfully translate the aspirations of the people into tangible reality.

Political parties in any political system, however, typically find themselves in a complex and uncertain environment. Change is a constant within all parties and their external surroundings. Such changes and challenges can either strengthen or weaken a party and can either contribute to the realisation of the party’s goals or have little impact and jeopardise the party’s continuity. In order for parties to be successful in such an environment focus, determination and adaptive institutional capacities are required.

It is vital for a political party to therefore have a shared idea and picture of what the party is, where it wants to go and how it plans to get there. In other words, political parties need to undertake a strategic planning if they are to survive and remain relevant.

Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) recognises the central role political parties play in a democracy, which ultimately lead to the Foundation embarking on this initiative.

The trained participants will now serve as a core team of facilitators for the strategic planning process for their respective political parties with technical backstopping from DWF. This approach is to ensure that the strategic planning processes are party-driven as one way of building sustainable capacity for political parties. It is also acknowledged that the political parties are at different levels in terms of developing party specific strategic plans. The support to be provided by DWF, through SAPP&D, will be tailor-made to the individual political parties and dependent on their needs with regards to the strategic planning process.

The workshop took place under the USAID-funded DWF Southern Africa Political Parties and Dialogue (SAPP&D) Programme, in which Freedom House is implementing partner. The programme seeks to strengthen political parties in Southern Africa so that they are more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations. The programme is active in Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia, and eSwatini.

About DWF

Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) is a southern African non-profit company focused on democracy development in the region. With headquarters in South Africa, DWF works through its country offices to provide tools to develop and build resilient democracies. DWF also has offices in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, and eSwatini.

As an independent foundation, we build and promote inclusive, equitable and sustainable consensus democracies for development. We do so by providing tools, platforms and content to strengthen democrats, democratic culture and democracy institutions.

DWF opened its doors in 2014 in response to the weakening of public institutions, corruption and declining public participation in South Africa as well as concerns about democratic and development progress in post-liberation Southern Africa.

DWF works on the supply and demand side of democracy. We operate across several programmatic areas:

  • Monitoring: we collect data, do research and provide analysis on the state of democracies.
  • Institutions: we support the capacity of democracy institutions to fulfil their mandates.
  • Citizens and leaders: we train future democrats to drive change.
  • Climate and democracy:  we strengthen the capacity of communities and democracy institutions to prioritise climate change initiatives.
  • Culture: we provide platforms for democratic engagement to cultivate new ideas for democracy.

Additionally, the Foundation provides advisory services on good governance and social impact and functions as a fiscal host and fund manager.

We believe that democracy is always a work in progress. It is often challenged and never complete. DWF is uniquely placed to continuously invest in and nurture resilient democracy and development.

[1] Referring to the court ruling of 5th November 2019 that saw a change to the leadership of the Party following a lengthy legal battle. The court reinstated Mr. Nevers Mumba as the legitimate president for the party

Fannie is a multi-disciplinary expert with more than 17 years of experience in the development and governance sectors. As the Deputy Regional Director, she is responsible for overseeing the management and operation of all programmes implemented at the country level within the southern African region for improved programme performance and coherence with organizational and donor objectives.

She also serves as the Deputy Chief of Party (DCOP) for the Southern Africa Political Parties and Dialogue (SAPP&D). Prior to this, she served as the Senior Technical Adviser (STA) and DWF Country Director for Zambia. Fannie has wide experience in governance promotion of policy dialogue, citizen participation, responsiveness, transparency and accountability as well as strengthening democratic governance and institutions. She is also well experienced in legislative and parliamentary work, programme management and strategic planning.

Before joining DWF, Fannie worked with a broad range of actors in management positions including serving as Programme Manager at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Malawi, as Deputy Country Director and Programs Coordinator with the Swedish Organization for Individual Relief (SOIR) and as Project Manager for the jointly funded Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and DFID Economic Governance Project in Malawi.

She also has hands-on experience in grants management and setting up grants making systems having worked as Deputy Team Leader and Head of Operations for a £19 million multi-donor (DFID, Royal Norwegian Embassy and Irish Aid) pooled grant-making facility in Malawi (the Tilitonse Fund).

As a DWF Master trainer and facilitator, Fannie provides organizational capacity development support through training, mentorship and coaching. Her academic background, in which she holds an MSc in Agriculture Economics from University of Malawi, and her practical experience in governance provides the much-needed nexus between politics and development.

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