EPP: Support for civil society electoral initiatives, especially citizen observation

EISA believes that electoral processes on the continent stand a better chance of credibility and improvement if they are closely monitored by the people of the countries in which they take place. To achieve this, EISA has placed its emphasis on supporting civil society organisations in their efforts to conduct domestic election observation.


One of the participants receives a certificate of attendance from IEC vice-chairperson, Ms Janet Love. Training in session being facilitated by EISA's Naphtaly Sekamogeng.
EISA facilitates Citizen Observer Training

12 - 15 September 2022

Between the 12th and 15th of September, EISA facilitated a citizen observer workshop with a number of NGOs emanating from Limpopo, the North-West and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa. The workshop, which is a partnership with South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was the second of a series of workshops where citizen observers from all South Africa's provinces will receive training on how to be an effective observer.

Group picture of all the participants.

The training comes in preparation for the 2024 South African national and provincial elections. These elections will be the first allowing for independent contestants to run for office following the Constitutional Court ruling which ruled that the Electoral Act was unconstitutional due to its non-provision for allowing for independent candidates to run for office. The training covered areas including the electoral cycle, international Benchmarks, Gender and Elections and Election Conflict analysis. Participants were provided with information on technology to improve election assessment including EISA's innovative Popola tool as well as the IEC's newly commissioned domestic observer tool, to name but a few. It is envisaged that the citizen observers will learn the necessary skills in order to be effective watchdogs over the upcoming elections.


Participation in the Long-term Effectiveness of Electoral Assistance survery and discussion

March 2021

EISA participated in a survey, interview, and discussion sessions on examining the current state of electoral assistance. The event was organised by International IDEA's Africa and West Asia Programme in collaboration with the Electoral Processes team, Global Programme.


Convening Committee Working Group on Cooperation of International and Citizen Election Observation Organisations

June 2020

EPP participated in the GNDEM Coordinating Committee-DoP Convening Committee Working Group on Cooperation of International and Citizen Election Observation Organisations. A communique was drafted on co-operation between international and citizen election observer organisations. The communique will be tabled at the Declaration of Principles of International Elections Observation (DoP) meeting, initially scheduled to take place in October/November and postponed to January 2021 due to COVID-19. EPP also participated in the DoP planning meeting contributing to the conceptualisation of the programme. The meetings have been held virtually.


Support to Citizen Observers in Mozambique

Within the framework of its memorandum of understanding with the citizen observation group (Platforma) in Mozambique, EISA's Elections and Political Processes, as part of it's support for civil society electoral initiatives, provided assistance to citizen observers deployed to the mayoral by-election in Nampula. A team from the EISA Head office joined the EISA Mozambique team to provide technical support for the training of 54 observer supervisors who also conducted a comprehensive parallel vote tabulation. The citizen observers was supported in using the popola system for the PVT. The by-election served as a test of the system ahead of the municipal elections to be held in October 2018 when EISA also intends to support the use of the system for PVT. The exercise generated a number of lessons for the improvement and diversification of the popola system.


Support programme for civil society and political parties in Mali

19-24 Nov 2017

As Mali prepared for the 2018 general elections, EISA deployed a NAM from 19 to 24 November 2017. It identified strategic areas for EISA's intervention within and beyond the framework of the Supporting Transitions and Electoral Processes (STEP) programme. EISA was invited by the Delegation of the European Union in Mali to submit a proposal on supporting civil society in citizen election observation and election violence monitoring. Based on findings of the NAM, EISA developed a programme to support civil society and political parties in Mali in response to the call for proposal. Pending the outcome of the proposal, the NAM can contribute to the quality of citizens' participation in democratic processes.


Rwandan Civil Society Organizations Supported

As part of the final phase of its civil society support programme in Rwanda, EISA facilitated the official launch of the Rwanda Electoral Support Network (RESN), composed of Ligue des Droits de la Personne des Grands Lacs, Action pour le Développement du Peuple (ADEPE) and Association des jeunes pour la promotion des Droits de l'Homme (AJPRODHO). This event marked the first step towards the official registration of the network. The establishment of RESN stemmed from the need for a harmonised CSO approach to engaging the electoral context through research, advocacy and election observation in Rwanda. With EISA's support, RESN convened a post-election review meeting as its first official activity in May 2014. The post-election review meeting was held in Kigali and was attended by representatives of civil society groups and the Rwanda Governance Board. Participants at the review meeting highlighted the need for civil society to engage in electoral reforms ahead of the 2017 presidential elections.

2014 Roundtable on election observation in Egypt

EISA co-facilitated a roundtable event on election observation in Egypt on 23 June 2014. The event was co-facilitated by EISA, the Embassy of Mexico and the Embassy of Switzerland, Egypt. The Roundtable provided a platform for interaction between representatives of electoral authorities and CSOs to address the need for a more coordination approach towards citizen observation and accreditation procedures for citizen observers in the Egyptian context.

It was also a lesson-learning event at which international experts shared experiences from other countries. The roundtable received inputs from the following international experts: Justice Johann Kriegler, former Chairperson of the South African Electoral Commission; Dr. Lucien Toulou, EISA's Programmes Director; Ms Bushra Abu-Shahout, Director of Policies at the Independent Election Commission of Jordan, she is also a former member of the National Commission for Human Rights; and Sheik Abdul Carimo Sau, Chairperson of the Mozambican Electoral Commission.

2014 Voter educators trained and deployed during elections in South Africa

EISA implemented a training and support programme for voter educators ahead of the May 2014 national and provincial elections. The training programme was targeted at women and first time voters in Gauteng Province. 36 lead trainers were trained and supported to conduct step down workshops at the community levels. A total of 335 community workshops were convened by the lead trainers.


Rwandan Civil Society Organizations Supported

Subsequently to the agenda of the EU funded project, EISA provided technical support to three groups of national and regional civil society organizations (CSOs) in Rwanda. The project sought to contribute towards the integrity of the September parliamentary elections in Rwanda. This was achieved through the conduct of professional citizen elections, whereby EISA supported a group of 205 citizen observers drawn from selected organizations. Technical support was provided through the implementation of an EISA technical team in the joint citizen observer group.

EISA's support covered a wide range of mechanism, from the training of election observers; recruitment and accreditation of observers; report drafters and deployment of observers. EISA is an established and experienced organization, therefore making it possible to provide technical advice to the joint mission secretariat and support to the development of a harmonized Election Day observation and a joint deployment plan. EISA also took part in assisting Rwanda with press conference arrangements, demonstrating the organizations professionalism and commitment in making sure the election run as intended in Rwanda. Despite experiencing difficulties in the working context in Rwanda, EISA was able to achieve a way forward by taking a step towards the building of a local capacity to conduct professional and efficient citizen election observation.


Election Observers capacity enhanced

EISA organized a series of training of election observers in a number of African states that were inclusive of Chad, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The training was aimed at preparing a pool of observers who may be called upon to participate in future observer missions (EOMs) during elections.

The trainings were attended by representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and political parties. Over 300 observers in total were trained in the workshops that took place in these countries. The aim of involving all of the mentioned individual groups is to further improve the structure of elections, and to enhance election education in African countries and its citizens.


Citizen observer training in Seychelles
Citizen observer training in Seychelles

EISA received a request from the Electoral Commissioner's office for training of citizen observers in Seychelles. It is important to note that citizen observation is a new concept in the Republic of Seychelles. This training was therefore the first in its history. EPP trained approximately fifty citizen observers drawn from the Citizen Democracy Watch in Victoria, Seychelles in September 2011. This was the first pool of domestic observers in Seychelles history that were equipped with knowledge and skills to observe the September 29 to October 1 2011 parliamentary elections. Through this training, citizen observers in Seychelles were exposed to international best practices. The deployment of citizen observers in these elections contributed to the perceived credibility of the Electoral Commission and it increased the integrity of the electoral process.


Partnership with Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network

EISA, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), provided support to civil society organisations in the area of constitutional review process. Five workshops were conducted around the country under the theme "Enhancing the Participatory Capacities of CSOs in the Constitution-Making Process in Zimbabwe". The main objective of the workshops was to discuss various critical thematic issues in order for civil society to confidently make meaningful contributions from an informed perspective on the new Constitution.

2010 Using Public International Law to Assess Elections: The Experience in Africa

In partnership with The Carter Center, EISA co-hosted a two-day workshop on assessment criteria for democratic elections. The workshop's aim was to introduce participating organisations to tools for election observation based on public international law. These tools, which are the output of TCC's multi-year, collaborative Democratic Election Standards project, were presented for review and discussion amongst participants to determine their effectiveness and relevance in the African region.

The two-day conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 3 to 4 May 2010. The gathering was attended by representatives drawn from organisations working in the area of election observation, human rights, democracy and governance across the African continent.

Workshop for CSOs


Workshop on the recruitment and training of observers

May-Nov 2009

Between May and November 2009, EPP held two workshops for CSOs. The first two workshops were conducted by EISA, as a member of a joint partnership between International IDEA and other partners of the Network for Enhanced Electoral and Democratic Support (NEEDS) III project. The project is aimed at training domestic observer groups from selected countries which are beneficiaries of the European Union (EU) electoral assistance.

The training focused on consolidating election observation methodology in line with international and regional standards and to improve domestic observers' capabilities through the development of a common approach in the recruitment and training of observers. The first training took place in May 2009 in Randburg, South Africa, and was conducted for representatives of CSOs involved in citizen observation in their respective countries from Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia. The second training was held in Dakar, Senegal, in November 2009 and was conducted for 23 representatives of CSOs from Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Republic), Côte d'Ivoire, DRC, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

2009 Workshop on a common approach in election observation in Africa

Aug 2009

EISA held a training workshop on election observation for representatives of CSOs from Africa. Participants were drawn from Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia. The objective of the workshop was to ensure that African CSOs gradually develop a common approach in election observation as well as to ensure that electoral observation in Africa has a real impact on the democratic development agenda.

The workshop took place in August 2009 in Johannesburg, South Africa. By the end of the training, participants indicated that they had gained a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the value of EISA's election observation methodology.


Conference on communication systems and regional standards

EPP held a conference on the improvement of communication systems and regional standards for elections and was held in Lilongwe, Malawi in November 2008, and was attended by representatives from SADC, Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire. As a result of this workshop, citizen observers in Swaziland were recognised as important stakeholders in the process and accredited to observe the 2008 elections. It is encouraging to note that citizen election observation in the SADC region has moved from simply being part of the lexicon to making a real impact.

2008 Network for Enhanced Electoral and Democratic Support (NEEDS) Project

EISA, in collaboration with International IDEA, will be providing training to selected citizen observer groups from countries which are beneficiaries of European Union (EU) assistance.

The overall objective is to ensure that electoral observation has a real impact on the democratic development agenda pursued by the EU in beneficiary countries and more significantly, the establishment of synergies between electoral observation and electoral assistance in the development of strategies for EU external cooperation programmes and the enhancement of the quality and capacity of citizen election observation in view of a systematic assessment of elections against international and regional standards for genuine democratic elections.

More specifically, the initiative aims to:

  • Consolidate methodology in line with international and regional standards of democratic elections;
  • improve observers capabilities through development of common approach in the recruitment and training of observers; and
  • contribute to democratic process in third countries through support to domestic observers and CSO through regional partners and the development and promotion of strategies for implementation of recommendations including capacity building.

Activities include:

  • Identification of eight domestic observers CSO and work with partners to strengthen their (EO) capacity on election observation methodologies, use of international standards for elections in election observation and the ability to produce credible observation report and recommendations;
  • regional networking all over Africa to facilitate regular exchange of experiences and promote South South cooperation;
  • organise five training courses of five days of length of which outline and methodology will be provided by the observers and regional network coordinator of the project; and
  • participate in training in other regions and provide recommendations for follow up in Africa.

The project will be executed in three phases from 2009-2011.

  • The first phase will be implanted from October 2008 to September 2009 and will take the form of a training workshop from 4-8 May 2009. Eight CSOs from eight Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe will be selected to take part. A five day training course will be held at EISA.
  • The second phase will be from October-September 2010. Eight CSOs from eight francophone countries in Africa will be selected for another five day training workshop.
  • The third phase will be implanted in 2011.


Support to citizen observation in Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho & Madagascar

In Botswana, EISA provided technical and financial support to the Botswana Electoral Support Network (BESNET) which is made up of members of the SADC-ESN. EISA supported BESNET in developing a training and deployment strategy for monitoring the Botswana Parliamentary and Local Government Elections held on 30 October 2004. In addition EISA also provided materials for use in the training of observers. BESNET deployed 300 observers during the elections.

In Namibia EISA worked with the Namibian NGO Forum (NANGOF) to provide technical and financial support for the training and deployment of election observers for the Namibia National Assembly elections recently held on 15-16 November 2004. Over 200 observers were trained and deployed for the elections.

EPP held two regional training workshops in election monitoring and observation, as a result of which domestic observers in Lesotho and Madagascar were recognised as important stakeholders in the process. It is encouraging to note that domestic election observation in the SADC region has moved from simply being part of the lexicon to making a real impact.


Civic and voter education and election observation capacity building

EPP has contributed to enhancing the capacity of civil society organisations in the region to plan and conduct election-related activities such as civic and voter education and election observation. Each of the networks that EPP has worked with was able to develop good quality training manuals for civic and voter education and/or for election observation.

They were also able to plan, assemble and deploy professionally sound domestic election observation missions. These organisations have become bolder in their approach to election observingand their increasingly effective participation in election reform debates. All those domestic civil society organisations which directly benefited from Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the SADC Region (PEMMO) training have used it in designing their election observation checklists as well as training their observers. This has led to a great deal of incorporation of PEMMO principles into the actual work of domestic observer groups. Indeed, the signs are that most of the election stakeholders in the region are aware of the principles and some have started to incorporate it into manuals, training materials and assessment tools. A wave of electoral reforms will hopefully close the circle by ensuring that the benchmarks set in PEMMO influence new laws positively.


Technical and financial Support to CSOs in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa

EISA has been able to provide technical and financial support to civil society actors in Malawi, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique to ensure their participation in observingelections in their respective countries. The rationale is to ensure the existence of strong civil society whilst promoting the use of PEMMO as the election assessment tool by domestic groups. EISA believes that locally-based organisations are best placed to ensure the entrenchment of the election principles espoused by PEMMO.

Under this project, EISA helped many civil society actors design training material, took part in training observers and assisted them with the logistical and substantive arrangements of the actual observation exercise, as well as reporting on their observations. Aside from the contribution to designing material and training trainers for the South African elections, as a member of the national South African Civil Society Observation Coalition, EISA provided office space and jointly co-ordinated Gauteng observers with the South African Council of Churches.


Voter and civic education and citizen observation

During 2003 EISA's Conflict Management, Democracy and Electoral Education (CMDEE) worked with civil society organisations in Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Mozambique. Two representatives from each country attended a "Designing Democracy, Voter Education and Human Rights" capacity building programme at EISA in Johannesburg in January 2003. During 2003 participants were provided with the opportunity to pilot the programmes they dveloped with input and support from EISA.

In anticipation of 10 SADC elections scheduled in 2004/5, CMDEE collaborated with civil society organisations in Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana to strategise and identify relevant areas of itervention by civil society. Planning woorkshops were convened and discussions held with CSO networks in these countries from which emerged interest in about citizen participation eduction, women's political empowerment and citizen observation initiatives.

CMEE also collaborated with the University of Pretoria's Centre for Human Rights in the Centre's "Election Observation Training" programme conducted f19-30 May 2003 which drew participants from across Africa.

Towards the end of 2003 these type of activities were transfered from CMEE to EPP.