South Africa: Party capacity building

Work to increace the capacity of political parties in South Africa has been undertaken by EISA's Governance Institutions and Political Processes (GIPPS) department, under its Political Parties Support Programme, aims to contribute to an open, inclusive and democratic political system, by strengthening this crucial set of stakeholders in the processes of democratic governance. The political parties capacity building activities are focused on ensuring that political parties are democratic and function effectively.


South African political parties as employers

Mar - Oct 2016

After submission of a proposal during December 2015, EISA was contracted by the Education Training and Development Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP-SETA) to conduct research on the South African political parties to determine a socio economic profile and the employment practices of the political parties sector. A key focus was on identifying the scarce and critical skills shortages facing political parties and in identifying their training, development and capacity needs.

A full quantitative survey research instrument was developed as well as supplementary key informant discussion guide. These were disseminated to the four key political parties and briefing meetings were held with the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the African National Congress (ANC) as well as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Both research instruments were approved.

The survey research instrument was administered as well as supplementary key informant interviews conducted. The analysis of all field work was conducted and the final research report was submitted at the beginning of October.

Monitoring and Evaluation Workshop

Mar - Jul 2016

In preparation for training workshops on "Introduction to Monitoring and Evaluation Tools for Enhancing Oversight and Accountability" material was developed to further the knowledge and understanding of participants in using monitoring and evaluation tools in a policy context. This content covered focuses on Understanding Governance, Accountability and Oversight; Exploring the link between Oversight and Accountability; Introduce Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) terms and concepts; Demonstrate through practical application how M&E can be used in a policy context and how M&E tools can be used for Oversight and Accountability and Demonstrate the application of a Theory of Change in a Policy context.

The first workshop on this material was held on in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 9 and 10 July and attended by 28 participants, 17 male and 11 female. Nine Political Parties, including the African National Congress (ANC), the African Independent Congress (AIC), Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (COPE), United Democratic Movement (UDM), PanAfrican Congress (PAC) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) attended. 19 Participants below the age of 35 attended.


EISA strengthened established working relationships and developing new working relationships to deliver effectively on the different projects in the Programme. Events were primarily linked to research and publishing, development of training and capacity building materials, conducting training and capacity building workshop and the public profiling of EISA's core projects through hosting a public seminar

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) engagement

A series of three meetings was held with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party in South Africa. As a new political party, the party required consultation and advice in preparation for hosting their inaugural provincial and national elective conference. The consultations were based on designing a policy deliberation process that was both inclusive and participatory. Moreover, the advice included information on designing an electoral process that was free, fair and transparent, which allowed all members of the party a say in the process of electing it's provincial and national leaders. The consultations culminated in a meeting with the EFF leadership and an EISA delegation at which a presentation was made regarding the optimal procedure and process of conducting their internal leadership elections. EISA, apart from providing advice based on the Benchmarks (see below) declined managing and administering the actual electoral process.

Political Party Benchmarking

Materials development

In preparation for the political parties dialogues on the political party benchmarks (see Benchmarks for Enhanced Political Party Performance for Democratic Governance in Africa) and the diagnosis on the problems in the enhanced implementation of benchmarks in political party systems, training materials titled "Political Parties Institutional and Organizational Development" was developed.

The material covered a range of themes including:

  • What is Politics and How do we Understand it?
  • What is Democracy and what is a democratic politics?
  • What is Governance and What is Democratic Governance?
  • Where do we locate political parties within a system of democratic Governance?
  • Elements of the Party System and the impact of party system interaction.
Dialogue and diagnosis workshop

21 and 22 Oct 2015

A political dialogue was held in Johannesburg on the 21 and 22 October. Though all the parties represented in the National Assembly were invited to the workshop, 13 participant from 6 political parties, attended. Significantly both the governing ANC and the main opposition party, the DA, attended. The ANC was represented by a senior researcher of its Parliamentary staff and the DA by an elected local Councillor. COPE was also represented by an elected local councillor and the African Christian Democratic Party was represented by its secretary general and an elected MP. The other parties were represented by senior elected members. Four participants were women, and four below the age of 35 five.


Outreach to new parties

As part of EISA's efforts to assist new and developing political parties, the institution reached out to several newly formed parties, some of whom gained representation in the new Parliament. Such parties included; the African Independent Congress, the Bushbuckridge Residents Association, Agang SA and the Economic Freedom Fighters. The assistance given to these political parties increased their exposure to new areas of capacity building and political networking.


EISA in 2013 sought to strengthen and cultivate existing and new partnerships with political parties as well as a range of other stakeholders working in the field of political parties and parliament. As part of this drive, EISA introduced a new approach that targeted women and youth within parties and focused on:

  1. Building the capacity of women and youth to participate more actively within political parties,
  2. Supporting the implementation of the Political Party Benchmarks which were developed by EISA together with political parties from across the African continent where necessary and applicable, and
  3. Provide training and support to political parties in election poll-watching.
Consultations in South Africa to identify areas of need

In view of the 2014 South African elections, consultations with political parties in South Africa were prioritized. Consultative meetings were held with five political parties, including the ruling party and the official opposition establishing an excellent base for the continued credibility of EISA's interventions, as well as identifying areas of need in political parties in order to tailor responsive interventions.


Political parties' internal organisation and capacity strengthened

Pursuant to extensive training workshops conducted in Botswana in 2011, support to political parties continued in 2012 through the provision of training workshops. In South Africa, training programmes occurred on a decentralized basis in the Northern Cape Province in Kimberley and attracted participants from two regions of the country, the Northern Cape Province and the Free State Province. These first sessions were attended by 25 participants drawn from the five main Parties, the African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (COPE), Independent Democrats (ID) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

The second held in Durban, KwaZulu Natal province, drew 22 participants from among the five main opposition parties of the DA, COPE, IFP, ID and United democratic Movement (UDM).

A third workshop, held in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province, also drew 22 participants from the four main opposition parties, COPE, the Azanian Peoples Organisation (AZAPO), the African Peoples Convention (APC) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM).

South African political parties as employers

EISA along with its new partners; Education Training and Development Pratices (ETDP) Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), worked on new thematic areas of work related to political parties as employers undertaken over an eight month period. EISA was contracted to conduct research among political parties as employers to inform the SETA's annual skills planning. This was the first time that information of this nature would become available on the country's political parties. A comprehensive research report was drafted and contains data about the driver's of change, demand and supply for skills, the factors affecting employment as well as supply and demand within political parties. In addition to the above, it identifies what the scarce and critical skills are as well as charts the current demographic profile of employees in the main political parties of South Africa.


Capacity building workshops

In geographic expansion, the programme gave importance to South African provinces that were not fully part of the mainstream political and public discourse. Four workshops were conducted in the North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape provinces in South Africa. This allowed for the capacity development of members of political parties from peripheral provinces and allowed them to gain the confidence and skills to form part of party deliberations. The workshops were also attended by media representatives who were able to gain insight into the different political parties and thereby improve their own capacity to report on these parties in their stories. As a result of the exposure of regional and local structures to the media, media coverage of party structures and activities outside the metropolitan areas was improved.