The Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) has urged political parties to have a broader understanding of policy development for them to effectively engage citizens to participate in politics.
ZCID Board Chairperson, Jackson Silavwe, said having an understanding of policy development would also provide a proper basis for political parties to engage the electorates.
Mr. Silavwe said it was important to have strategies for setting up research units in political parties for them to find it easy to solicit and articulate public policy priorities and civic needs.
Mr Silavwe was speaking in Lusaka today, at a training workshop for political parties on policy development and strategies for setting up policy research units.
“We are confident that after this training, political parties that are participating will have a common, collective understanding and tools for policy formulation and strategic communications of these policies to the general public,” he said.
Mr. Silavwe further pointed out that the training workshop was in line with ZCID’s mandate of strengthening institutional and human capacity of political parties as pillars of a vibrant multiparty democracy.
Meanwhile, Mr. Silavwe has said plans are underway to put in place necessary reforms that will allow ZCID to start involving independent Members of Parliament (MPs) in such training workshops and other programmes.
The training workshop was being undertaken with support from the International Republican Institute (IRI) under the regional strengthening political parties programme, whose overall purpose is to strengthen their ability to engage the electorate on policy issues and develop communication strategies for the same policies.
And IRI Programme Manager, Kimberly Smiddy, observed that political parties, which can represent their constituents and formulate policy solutions, are a cornerstone of a well-functioning democracy.
“And these kinds of political parties win elections,” Ms. Smiddy noted.
She said both ruling and opposition political parties should therefore play a crucial role in this sphere of policy formulation.
“In order to cultivate Zambia’s democracy, all political parties must play an active role in advancing solutions and giving voice to citizens,” she said.
Ms. Smiddy hoped that the training workshop will enable participating political parties to gain critical insights that will enhance their ability to provide solutions to key issues impacting Zambia today.
The workshop was attended by the three political parties that have representation in parliament namely United Party for National Development (UPND), Patriotic Front (PF) and the Party of National Unity and Prosperity (PNUP).
The IRI is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation which is dedicated to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide.
In September 2020, the IRI programme of strengthening political parties through regional exchange and policy development began a needs assessment in Zambia by engaging all political parties represented in parliament then.
This was followed up by capacity building training on policy driven campaigns and public engagement strategies amidst Covid-19.