As on way of building capacity of its staff, the Malawi Electoral Commission has organized a two-week Train The Facilitator (TtF) course under the internationally recognized Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) curriculum.
This training is taking place in Mulanje and has also attracted participants from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Opening the training on Wednesday, June 15,2016 MEC chairperson, Justice Maxon Mbendera SC said his Commission was committed to conduct credible elections but this hinged on having trained staff in place.
"This training has come at a right time as the Commission has started it preparations for the 2019 Tripartite Elections. We have had BRIDGE trainings in the past but the good thing about this training is that it will increase the number of facilitators the Commission already has.
"We will now be able to hold four courses, one in each of our regions, at simultaneously. This is the ideal case we have been looking forward to. In elections time is of essence and with good number of qualified facilitators we will be able to accomplish much of our activities within a short time," he said.
Justice Mbendera SC urged the participants to fully concentrate on the training and get the best out of the facilitators so that they pass the assessment which is part of the process of qualifying as a BRIDGE facilitator.
The MEC chairman thanked the European Union for the financial support under the Democratic Governance Programme (EU-DGP).
"Since May 2014, EU DGP has been the biggest partner to MEC, besides the basket fund managed by UNDP. EU DGP has funded several BRIDGE courses that have targeted MEC staff and stakeholders including political parties. We remain indebted to them for their benevolence," he said.
In his remarks, MEC Chief Elections Officer, Mr Willie Kalonga said it was the wish of the Commission to train facilitators who in return would not only keep the knowledge to themselves but share it with others who have not made it to the training.
"The Commission is investing in you; the resources and time that has been given to you should not only be kept to yourself but also use it in the trainings that are to follow after completion of this training.
"We have planned to have a master trainer programme and some of the people that are going to be used in that programme are amongst us here," he said.
Mr Kalonga added that it was the expectation of the Commission "that these kinds of trainings will not end here but go a long way to other stakeholders like politicians who will in return have a clear understanding of elections.
"BRIDGE trainings have different modules and all these encompasses around the issues of election. In the past we have held several BRIDGE courses targeting political parties, CSOs and other stakeholders but this one we targeted our staff."
The lead facilitator for the course is Ms Rindai Chipfunde Vava from Zimbabwe and is being assisted by three Malawian BRIDGE facilitators; Ms Thandie Nkovole, Ms Rebecca Chisamya and Ms Gellien Tembo.
The course has drawn 20 participants from MEC. The international participants are Rejoice Mtombeni and Austin Ndlovu from Zimbabwe, Leornard Okemwa and Ann Nderitu from Kenya.