Reinforcing Credibility and Acceptance of Electoral Processes
12 April 2014, UNDP sponsored the participation of three senior staff from the two Tanzanian electoral management bodies, namely the National Electoral Commission and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, in the international thematic workshop on promoting stakeholder engagement with the electoral process which took place in Amman, Jordan, from 07 – 12 April 2014.
The workshop, funded by the European Union and UNDP through their Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance, brought together 250 representatives of electoral management bodies (EMBs), political parties, parliamentarians, UNDP and EU field staff and also civil society actors working on electoral support, to share experiences under the theme “Reinforcing Credibility and Acceptance of Electoral Processes: The Role of Electoral Stakeholders and Electoral Administrations”.
Tanzania is preparing for a constitutional referendum later this year and the 2015 general elections and as part of the strategy to improve EMBs’ institutional capacity for credible elections in Tanzania, locally UNDP is supporting both NEC and ZEC through the multi-year donor funded Democratic Empowerment Project (DEP) . Such support includes efforts to improve the legal, institutional and operational capacity of the EMBs to conduct credible, transparent and peaceful elections. At the heart of these endeavours is the project’s commitment to enhancing effective interface between the EMBs and electoral stakeholders such as political parties, civil society, media, the security sector, judiciary, parliament and other government departments and agencies.
Speaking to UNDP upon the delegation’s return to Dar es Salaam, NEC Commissioner Ms Mchanga Mjaka who led the delegation said among the key things they learnt was that electoral credibility requires more than a technically sound election. “It requires an electoral administration that is independent, professional and well-resourced to conduct elections in a transparent and peaceful manner, and also the involvement and positive engagement of actors such as political parties and civil society who determine whether the outcome of the elections is acceptable and legitimate”, she said.
As part of the EMBs strategy to plan and prepare better for the next electoral cycle, the three participations have resolved to convene internal consultations to foster dialogue on ways to improve EMB engagement with key electoral stakeholders and to use the material from the Amman workshop to inform the dialogue and their outcome. Among some of the tested and most effective mechanisms EMBs can use to enhance cooperation and synergy with stakeholders is the establishment of formal EMB-stakeholder forums, facilitating regular media briefings, and promoting public awareness about elections through civic and voter education.