In 2021, Democracy Development Program (DDP) established a Parliamentary program unit in order to promote civil society engagement with the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) provincial legislature. The mission behind the establishment of this program is to deepen accountability and promotion of good governance and promote public engagement with the legislature through its various programs. Having established the unit, the DDP went into a mutual agreement with Kwazulu Natal Multiparty Women Caucus and offer capacity-building programs to the caucus in the following areas;
KAS agreed to fund these training workshops. The DDP team led by its Executive Director Dr. Paul Kariuki met with the KZN Multi-party caucus steering committee led by Hon Celiwe Madlopha on the 24th of November 2021 and agreed to have the organization capacitate the women’s caucus on different areas of their needs lists which include the role of parliament, parliamentary committees, research, and report writing, etc. During this year the organization conducted three capacity-building workshops for the women’s caucus.
Understanding the role of parliament, parliamentarians, and parliamentary committees
February 15, 2022, DDP hosted its first capacity-building workshop for members of the KwaZulu Natal Legislature Women’s Caucus Committee. This workshop was held at Elangeni Hotel in Durban and was facilitated by DDP’s Parliamentary Program Officer, Nyasha Mpani. The workshop focused on training and making members understand the role of parliament, parliamentarians, and parliamentary committees. Through the workshop member of the women, the caucus was given an opportunity to be trained on their role as parliamentarians and it managed to simplify their position in order to avoid the situation of having them be backbenchers in parliament but become active parliamentarians who are competent in their work and deliver on what is expected of them. A total of twenty members physically attended the training with others joining online. Members of the Multiparty Caucus were so grateful for the workshop and had this to say;
“The role of women in parliament is quite male-dominated, it is important that females who are legislature members are encouraged and motivated to really get out there and do what they are capable of. This is a great opportunity for us women!”-Hon E Rabe
“The woman’s caucus workshop was well prepared and covered the areas that would have been of concern to parliamentarians. The challenges that women face came up and the recommendations catered for that.”- Hon M. Govender
“Thank you to DDP and the KZN legislature for such an informative workshop. It has brought in a new perspective and manner of approach at an internal and external level regarding legislative issues for women”- Hon P. Harricks
The committee chairperson, Honourable Celiwe Madlopha, thanked DDP for conducting the workshop and encouraged the organization to continue to support the caucus in skills development. She also said as a committee they are grateful for having received critical knowledge that will empower them in the legislature to be in a position to understand their role as women in this sphere of governance.
Research, Report writing, Motion Drafting, Policy Making, and Policy Review
The second training workshop for the women’s Caucus took place on the 5th of August 2022 at Elangeni Hotel in Durban. The workshop focused on training the multi-party women’s caucus on how to conduct research, report writing, policy making, policy review, and on how draft motions. The intended outcome of the workshop was to have well-trained and skilled women legislature who is competent in the field of research, report writing, policy review, and analysis. A total of 25 women legislatures attended the training workshop. The idea behind this workshop was to capacitate women legislatures so as to be able to conduct research and report writing on their own given the fact that the KZN legislature is understaffed with technical staff who are supposed to be doing this work for women legislatures. It was also after the realization that some members of the women’s legislature do not have enough educational background yet these skills are vital in performing their work. The facilitator of the workshop Nyasha Mpani, argued that
“The training was key as MPLs do need to have skills in research, report writing, policy review, and analysis as it feeds into their day-to-day work in the legislature where they are supposed to research on certain bills, motions and write reports for the parliament, their constituency and for their respective political parties.”
He further emphasized that overreliance on parliament staff can hinder the MPLs from doing their work as parliament staff is not enough and has other members to offer services to. Two new Members argued that the workshop was helpful for them as they got clarity on how motions are tabled in parliament and the process that one needs to follow. The activity was monitored through the use of a post-evaluation activity were members were given placards to write down their evaluation of the workshop. Some comments from the delegates were as follows;
“We really gained and look forward to more empowerment programs specially designed for women. I am really empowered and now I can write a report on my own”
“The material and content given were good. In the future members must all be present physically”
After the workshop, the members made some recommendations which are:
‘’How the KZN Women’s Caucus can work with the Pan African Parliament Women’s Caucus to advance Agenda 2063’’
The last training workshop for the year was conducted on the 23rd of November 2022 at Elangeni Hotel in Durban. The thrust of the workshop sought to educate/train women on the role of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) and on Agenda 2063. During the planning of the training workshop, DDP had invited the Pan African Parliament to attend and present at the workshop but the organ failed to pitch up due to some bureaucratic challenges within the organ. However, besides this set back the training workshop went ahead and DDP presented at the workshop. Through the training workshop, the women’s caucus got an opportunity to be trained and educated on the role of Pan African Parliament, its role, mandate and activities, and how best as the KZN women’s caucus they can engage and popularise the work of the Pan African Parliament to the grassroots. The caucus was also empowered with members testifying that through the workshop the AU’s Agenda 2063 has been simplified for them and they now have a clear picture on how best women parliamentarians can do to ensure that the 7 aspirations of the agenda are achieved. The workshop also gave members an opportunity to discuss and identify some of the challenges that may hinder the realization of this agenda and these include too much IMF/World Bank borrowing, lack of unity amongst Africans, poverty etc. Members also highlighted that they were excited to know about the role of Pan African Parliament and recommended that they would in the future want to meet with the Pan African Parliament Committee on Gender, Family, youth and children so as to identify areas of collaboration and cooperation to avoid working in silos on important matters affecting the continent.
Future Activities (2023)
As the comes to an end, the DDP is extremely excited to have been able to train and capacitate the KZN women’s caucus this year. The organisation led by Dr Kariuki is grateful to KAS who saw the important need to fund such an important project. The organisation is also grateful to the women’s caucus Chairperson Hon Celiwe and her steering committee who saw the importance of the partnership. As we enter into the new year the organisation plans to have the following activities with the women’s caucus;
African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to also be invited and share on their organ’s mandate to the caucus so as to identify synergies.