A Leadership and Dialogue (LEAD) workshop was held in Harare, Zimbabwe at the Bronte’s Hotel from 27th March to 2nd April 2017. This 5-day LEAD training of trainers is part of a regional project, funded by the European Union that is entering into its fourth and final year of implementation. The European Centre for Electoral Support in partnership with the Election Support Network of Southern Africa (ESN-SA) together with the network’s 16 members have delivered activities around leadership and dialogue in all 14 countries comprising the SADC under the PEV SADC project (www.pevsadc.eu).
The opening ceremony had speeches from the European Unions Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Van Damme and ECES' Victoria Florinder, Election Conflict Management Advisor. The European Union expressed strong support to these kinds of initiatives and will continue to be a strong ally for all of those who are committed to dialogue and seek understanding across organizational or party lines
Participants came from various electoral stakeholder groups. Represented in the room were Chief Electoral Officer, Mrs Chigwamba ZEC, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Mr Silaigwana ZEC, ZEC Secretariat, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Secretariat, Political Parties and Civil Society. Representatives of diplomatic missions attended the opening.
To date, over 700 people all over SADC have been trained in the LEAD curriculum. LEAD participants in Harare will be the first pool of trainers in Zimbabwe.
Along the way, after near 4 years of implementing the regional PEV SADC project, we have learnt that many platforms for dialogue exists at the regional, national and local level. These platforms may at times need to be revived by supplying new resources, freshen up capacities, getting connected to other platforms in other areas or countries. This is essentially the main task of the PEV SADC project team, namely to support what is already there.
The curriculum on Leadership and Dialogue was crafted by ECES in partnership with Centre for Creative Leadership, CCL. CCL is based the US and delivers high-end executive education for world leaders. Such trainings are usually very costly and require far more time than what one usually can afford. The partnership between CCL and ECES emerged to make leadership training accessible and affordable for electoral stakeholders.
Leadership training blended with dialogue techniques has so far proven to be a winning concept. Leadership, both for the individual and organizational level, are essential components of electoral processes.
The LEAD workshop in Harare was not meant to iron out fundamental differences between stakeholders but rather explore various ways how exchange between stakeholders of difference of opinion, beliefs or ideologies can be carried out almost conflict-free by making use of technical skills.
In sum then, this workshop in Harare was a forum where all electoral stakeholders can develop skills in leadership and dialogue and make use of the very fact that participants come from different backgrounds to bring out as many perspectives are possible on how to succeed with dialogue.
The workshop was facilitated by Leandro Nagore, Senior Electoral Advisor, Granville Abrahams, Senior Manager for Electoral Matters from the IEC in South Africa, Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, Host Director of the Election Support Network of Southern Africa and Executive Director of Zimbabwe Election Support Network and lastly, Victoria Florinder, ECES.