Political parties are institutions that bring together the needs and concerns of citizens and translate them into practical and actionable programs that benefit them (the citizens) within national and local legal, budgetary and policy frameworks. By implication, this means that democracies need strong and sustainable political parties that are vibrant, well institutionalized and equipped with the basic capacities and skills required to design programs, systems and policies that can meaningfully translate the aspirations of the people. actually tangible. However, political parties in Southern Africa face a number of challenges, including their limited capacities to conceptualize and meaningfully implement responsive policies. In many cases, programmatic and problem-oriented politics remains a distant reality in many African political parties.
In this context, the Democracy Works Foundation (DWF), funded by the International Republican Institute (IRI), is implementing a three-month initiative. This aims to build the capacities of political parties that would enable them (the parties) to develop evidence-based policies that respond to the needs and aspirations of society. As part of this initiative, DWF will host a series of virtual training workshops from March 10-18, 2022 to build political party research capacity. Topics covered in these workshops include data fundamentals, data collection, data storage, analysis and presentation. It is expected that at the end of this training, participants will be able to demonstrate basic research skills for data fundamentals; know the data collection and storage process; be able to visualize, analyze and present data as well as better understand the role of data in policy and decision-making. The training workshops target parliamentary political parties from Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.
For DWF, this initiative complements a five-year program (2017-2022) of Political Parties and Dialogue in Southern Africa (SAPP&D) funded by USAID Southern Africa. The SAPP&D program aims to build the capacity of political parties in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Zambia to be well organized and function better to better respond to the needs and aspirations of the people. The SAPP&D program also works with and supports the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in Eswatini to improve the administration of elections in that country, particularly by enhancing women’s political participation. Initiatives such as the SAPP&D program and the previously mentioned training are some of the ways DWF contributes to achieving its mandate of building resilient and socially inclusive democracies in Southern Africa.