BRIDGE workshop: Capacity Development of Political Parties

Nov 17, 2016

Participants of the BRIDGE workshop taking a group

From the 12th – 16th of November, representatives from 11 political parties were trained on “Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections" – commonly known as the BRIDGE methodology. This training was organized by the National Consultative Forum of Political Organizations (NFPO) in collaboration with the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Rwanda. The training was supported by UNDP under its “Deepening Democracy and Accountable Governance” (DDAG) programme.

This workshop aimed at strengthening the capacity of political parties as part of a process of enhancing governance and deepening democracy in Rwanda. A key focus was on strengthening the understanding of the electoral cycle and the roles and responsibilities of the different actors involved in elections.

Key issues covered during the workshop included international standards for elections, the electoral cycle, the legal framework for elections, conducting fair electoral campaigns, and regulations relating to under-represented groups. The code of conduct for Political Parties and the Media was also among the main topics of the workshop. Participants were selected by each political party and included 2 representatives (1 male and 1 female) from the 11 registered political organizations in Rwanda. 

Distinguished speakers at the closing ceremony of the workshop included the NEC Chairman, Professor Kalisa Mbanda; the Executive Secretary of NFPO, Mr. Oswald Burasanzwe; and the UNDP Country Director, Mr. Stephen Rodriques. Other government officials and representatives from the UN Family, Civil Society Organizations, DDAG Implementing Partners and Development Partners were also in attendance. 

Representatives from different political parties at the workshop

Prior to the closing of the workshop, participants used entertaining role plays and group discussions to share with the guests some of what they learned during the 5 days of training.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, the Executive Secretary of NFPO, Mr. Burasanzwe, thanked the delegates from the different political parties for their active participation in the workshop as well as the NEC and UNDP for their support in strengthening the capacity of the political parties.

For his part, the Chairman of the NEC, Prof. Mbanda, said that the NEC considers BRIDGE workshops as one of the best tools for capacity building of political parties and other key stakeholders in the electoral process. Prof. Mbanda further expressed satisfaction with the quality of the training and expressed hope that the knowledge and skills obtained by the participants would help to improve the conduct and performance of the political parties.

“This BRIDGE training is timely as we prepare for the 2017 elections. We’ve got some lessons learned from the past electoral cycle and so we want the next cycle to be even better. Elections are a prerequisite for development, improved welfare and good governance. Successful elections need the full cooperation of all parties. Thus I hope that the participants will make good use of the new skills gained through this workshop and enhance the quality of their performance,” Prof. Mbanda said.

Participants of BRIDGE workshop getting certificates of completion

In his remarks, The UNDP Country Director, Mr. Rodriques, commended the Government of Rwanda for the great efforts made to ensure citizen participation and accountable governance in the country and pledged the continued support of the One UN Rwanda family. He noted that good governance and a strong culture of accountability in a country is key to achieving sustainable economic growth and development.

“Within UNDP, we have a strong belief that good governance is the foundation on which society develops. Without good governance, without accountability, without transparency, without people being able to participate in decision-making about their own lives, societies do not progress well. For us investing in good governance is as important as investing in infrastructure, education and health,“ Mr. Rodriques said before thanking the range of national institutions with which UNDP works to improve governance and democracy. These institutions, he said, included the National Parliament, the NEC, the Media High Council, NFPO, and the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), among others.

A representative of the participants commended the effectiveness of the BRIDGE methodology, commenting on how comprehensive it was in addressing many of the issues of interest to them as politicians.

“BRIDGE covers everything a politician needs to know from how elections are conducted, to how to mobilize and manage resources. I needed to know all that.  I have also seen some of the errors we unconsciously used to make and I now know how to correct them. The knowledge that was acquired during this training will no doubt go a long way in cementing democracy and governance,” said Ngendishaka Asha from PDI.

All participants who completed the five-day training course were handed BRIDGE certificates.

BRIDGE - "Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections" - is the most comprehensive professional development course available in elections administration. Its goal is to promote and support democracy and good governance through multi-stakeholders learning, dialogue and networking. 

To date, it has been conducted in over 30 countries with more than 2,000 people. It improves the skills, knowledge, and confidence both of elections professionals and of key stakeholders in the electoral process, such as members of the media, political parties, and electoral observers.  

Outside of the BRIDGE training, UNDP has supported other capacity development programmes targeting political parties in Rwanda. For example, UNDP supports training of young aspiring political leaders through a Youth Political Leadership Academy with the NFPO. Key topics covered in the academy training include: theories of political ideology, political party functioning and development, public policy making, political communication, and social networking for party expansion.

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