Through EPP, EISA continued as the secretariat to the Electoral Support Network (ESN), strengthening the network through various activities in the region, while strengthening its collaborative relations with the Electoral Commissions Forum (ECF) of SADC countries.
EPP continued to support the regional networks such as the now fully autonomous and self-sustaining ECF and the SADC-ESN, acting as secretariat of the latter until 2009.
EISA continued to serve as the Interim Secretariat of the ECF in the year under review. In this role, EISA organised all the statutory meetings. The ECF's 6th annual general conference was held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on 20-24 July 2004. His Excellency, President Robert Mugabe, officially opened the conference. The conference elected Mr V Tonchi of Namibia as the ECF executive committee chairperson. The theme of the conference was 'Elections, Democracy and National Development'. Amongst the key resolutions, the need to establish a permanent secretariat for the ECF in Botswana, as agreed during the 2003 annual conference, was reiterated. In this regard the conference decided to advertise for a programme officer for the ECF, to be based at the Botswana Independent Electoral Commission offices, as of January 2005. In anticipation of the end of EISA's role as the ECF's Secretariat, it was suggested that a memorandum of understanding between ECF and EISA be signed to regulate the new relationship.
EISA remained the Interim Secretariat of the ECF in 2003. The 5th Annual General Conference was held in Mozambique 25-30 July, hosted by the National Electoral Commission of Mozambique, and EISA was responsible for the logistics and reporting. The theme was "Electoral Management Bodies' response to HIV/AIDS". Amongst the resolutions adopted was one to establish a permanent secretariat in Botswana and another that finalised the draft of the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the SADC Region.
EISA continued to house the ESN and function as its secretariat in 2003. Under the theme "Building a Sustainable Network", the Annual General Meeting was held in February 2003 and an interim committee was elected to oversee different areas of work. Members of the SADC-ESN took an active part in the drafting of the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the SADC Region (PEMMO) and most of them were represented at the SADC regional conference where PEMMO was adopted.
EISA's Project Management and Development (formerly Project Management and Consultancy) acted as the secretariat for both the ECF and the ESN, servicing and attending to the administration of both these networks.
Activities for ECF included arranging and convening Executive Committee meetings, the Annual General Conference held in Malawi in July 2002 and the execution of projects. The Conference around the theme "Managing Election Related Conflict in SADC Countries" and was opened by Justin Malewezi, Vice President of Malawi. The conference also worked on the establishment of a permanent secretariat and on the funding necessary to ensure the autonomy of the Forum. ECF projects included the development of the capacity of members to manage electoral conflict, the production of a comprehensive election compendium and the fielding of election observation missions in Zimbabwe and Lesotho. The ECF also tasked EISA to assist in the development of skills development course content and the conduct of a pilot workshop to explore the modalities of establishing a training centre.
As far as SADC-ESN was concerned, a Project Management Team held a regional workshop in Lesotho on the participation of women in the election process, capacity building programmes for the development of voter and civic education material and the issue of a magazine, Election Chronicle. The SADC-ESN also fielded observation missions to Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
The EISA's Project Management and Consultancy (formerly Project Management and Marketing) continued to act as the Secretariat for the ECF and the ESN while forming new links with organisations outside these two in preparation for new activities once the ECF and the ESN had attained full autonomy from EISA. Preparations for autonomy for the ECF took the form of an ambitious plan to achieve sustainability including diversification of donor funding, financial self-sufficiency, capacity building for members and the formation of ties with bodies like the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
The Annual General Conference of the ECF, held in Botswana, focused on building sustainability and autonomy; the decision was taken to establish a permanent secretariat to be hosted by Botswana. As far as capacity building was concerned, two modules were developed for election management curricula and a two day training programme was conducted by EISA following these modules. The ECF also took part in election observer missions in the Seychelles and Zambia. An Information Technology Project was initiated to facilitate communication and a website for the ECF and the electoral management bodies were equipped with software and email.
Lack of funding hampered the development of the ESN and the Annual General Meeting held in Namibia focused on obtaining new sources of funding. In March the magazine Election Chronicle was published. A three day elections and media conference was conducted in Zambia in July from which Democratising Mass Media in Southern Africa: An election guide ensued. EISA departmental staff conducted training in the design of democracy programmes, conflict management and election management, funded by the Swiss Development Corporation, was conducted for members. A round table was conducted in Zambia on gender and elections at which the draft Regional Gender List was reviewed in preparation for its dissemination amongst other Southern African structures.
EISA's Project Management and Marketing managed EISA's two SADC regional programmes, the ECF and the ESN (formerly known as NGONESSA), while nurturing them towards full autonomy. The ECF held two Annual General Meetings, in Lusaka and Johannesburg respectively, in 2000 at which the ECF's constitution was confirmed and programmes to establish a permanent secretariat and to build members' capacity were adopted. A ten person mission was sent to observe elections on the Tanzanian mainland and in Zanzibar led by the chair of the Electoral Commission of Namibia, Victor Tonchi.
EISA's Southern African Development Programme functioned as the secretariat for the ECF and NGONESSA (later named the Electoral Support Network). ECF projects included a conflict prevention and management training programme for the various member electoral management bodies, a campaign to build consensus among stakeholders in member countries on electoral principles and procedures, the compilation of an Electoral Information Digest and an information technology programme. NGONESSA engaged in the observation of regional elections, generated information to assist the media in contributing to a environment conducive to free elections, the investigation of ways in which gender can be mainstreamed in the electoral process and capacity building programmes for member CSOs.
EISA's Southern African Development Programme functioned as the secretariat for the ECF and NGONESSA (later named the Electoral Support Network). The ECF was officially launched at a conference in Cape Town in July 1998 at which all but two SADC electoral commissions signed its Constitution. Even prior to this, in May, the ECF deployed its first electoral observer mission to Lesotho. The creation of an Election Experts and Resource Persons Database was initiated and the International Development Research Centre funded an information and technology project to supply members with Internet connection and e-mail and to develop a website for the ECF.
In July 1997 EISA's Southern African Development Programme facilitated a roundtable of electoral commissions in the SADC region at Midgard, Namibia, in July 1997 and a draft constitution for an Electoral Commissions Forum (ECF) was adopted by the majority of the commissions. The ECF and EISA began work on the development of a set of principles for electoral practice in SADC countries. In August 1997 a roundtable of regional non-governmental organisations engaged in electoral support and democracy education in Gaborone which laid the foundation for the building of a regional network of NGOs.