LEAD ToT Cape Town

LEAD ToT for IEC's civil Conflict Mediation Panels of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC)


ECES, in partnership with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is delivering a 6-day training of trainers in Leadership and Conflict Management for Electoral Stakeholders (LEAD) for IEC's civil Conflict Mediation Panels at Strand Towers, Cape Town 18-23 July 2016. The workshop host Panelists from all nine provinces of South Africa who is either a coordinator or a deputy coordinator. The Panels have played a crucial role in deescalating conflict on the grassroots level in their respective communities. Bearing in mind that election related conflict usually plays out on the local level, orchestrated by powerful agents, panels are centrally located between the people in their respective localities and the local IEC branch. As such, the role of these Panels are to function as a bridge in-between and a first-aid to when political competition escalates into conflict. They have successfully carried out their work in the past, but with limited resources and growing challenges, ECES was called upon to support the Panels prepare for the local and general elections 2016 and 2018 respectively.

This LEAD training is part of ECES regional conflict prevention project, funded by the European Union (EU) at 75 per cent and ECES the remaining 25 per cent. During the course of the training, the Provincial Panels will gradually be equipped with an in-depth understanding of the LEAD curriculum and conflict management and mediation techniques sprung out of part experiences, so that they can support their peers using this innovative and engaging methodology.

The first day was opened by an inspiring speech delivered by IEC's Senior Manager for Electoral Matters at central level, Mr. Granville Abrahams. He recalled the history of South Africa and the challenges ahead and thanked ECES and its management for having organised, in a short time frame, this workshop that brought together the Provincial Panels for the very first time. Oscar Siwali from the Provincial Panel of Western Cape reiterated the timely support from the EU funded ECES-IEC workshop and suggested that more occasions were to be delivered in all Provinces between the local elections and the general elections, namely over the next two years. The opening ceremony was concluded along these lines as Mr. Abrahams called for a continuation of the workshops, in a cascade fashion, enabling the Provincial Panels to get the needed support to coordinate at national level and at the same time benefiting from the ECES-IEC collaboration, both i terms of content, advisory support, coordination and logistical matters that ECES could provide for.

The following sessions of the day tackled issues such as the unique history of South Africa and thereby, the multi-facetted challenges for future elections as much is at stake and emotions are getting tuned up. Participants got to explore leadership concepts, both from an individual and organisational point of view and developed standards, values and principles that should guide their work. The award-winning film, An African Election directed by Jarreth Merz during the 2008 electoral process in Ghana proved to give much food for thought and highlight similarities between the electoral processes we've been as of late in the SADC, despite it being some 8 years ago now. In short, electoral conflict shares some universal traits but its cultural make up can sometimes lead us to believe that electoral conflict arises out of a unique set of unfortunate circumstances and overlooking the commonalities. These commonalities is what electoral stakeholders can prepare for, as some attributes of conflict tend to repeat itself across the continent and regardless of culture, while other traits are more context-specific and require continues conflict mapping exercises as one out of several techniques to detect worrying developments.

The LEAD training challenges conventional ways of analysing conflict an brings in elements of human psychology, collective responsibility, economic drivers and social identities to delve deeper into the root causes of election related conflict and violence. Participants got to evaluate the first day through an interactive closing session and highlighted the added value of the diversity among the facilitators but also the richness of the SADC contextualised material, that is a result of the ECES coordinated PEV SADC research that has generated case studies on ERV in all SADC countries over the recent years.

The facilitators that are coming from a diverse background but unite in their electoral experience, composed by Rindai Chipfunde Vava, Vice Chair of the ESN-SA and Director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), Zefanias Matsimbe, Senior Electoral Expert from Mozambique, Alberto Nandja, Chief Electoral Officer at STAE (electoral commission of Mozambique) and Leadership mentor with specific interventions from Jestina Mukoko, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project on early warning mechanisms and Dimpho Motsamai, SADC expert and researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria on specific origins to election conflict in the South African context. The workshop is being coordinated by Victoria Florinder, ECES Election conflict Management Advisor based between ECES headquarters in Brussels and in the SADC region, who is also facilitating, especially on mediation and negotiation techniques.