Strengthening Angola’s democratic processMar 19, 2021
Fourteen Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from five Angolan provinces are being empowered with skills, resources, and opportunities to conduct public awareness raising, voter education, and mobilisation campaigns as part of the “Let’s Vote – Stronger Voice For a Better Future” project, which is focused on the first municipal elections in Angola. The project’s goals include raising awareness of and participation in the democratic process by citizens, particularly women, youth, and people with disabilities.
People in Need (PIN) has partnered with Mosaiko, an Angolan non-governmental organisation, to implement the initiative in the provinces of Luanda, Bié, Huíla, Moxico, and Cuanza Sul, with funding from the European Union and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Angola.
The first activity with representatives of the 14 CSOs was a workshop in January 2021, during which participants interacted, exchanged ideas, shared experiences, formed partnerships, and discussed strategies for developing their election action plans.
Custódio Calembela, member of the Friends of Boa Esperança Neighbourhood Association (Anabe) in Luanda, says: “We see these campaigns as a way to convince people that their active participation will also help them solve their own problems.”
Pedro Mucano, PIN’s project manager, notes: “This component of the project aims to strengthen the technical skills of CSO members so that they can help citizens improve their understanding of their rights and duties in the electoral process.”
Focus on youth and women
To select CSOs to participate in the Municipal Election Education Programme (12 month initiative aimed at helping participants conduct public awareness raising, voter education, and mobilisation campaigns), the project team analysed the organisations’ values, backgrounds, community involvement, and expectations. The CSOs were also asked to provide information on the types of activities they intended to carry out with programme support. In line with the objectives of the project, most plan to work with women and young people.
Neusa Francisco, from the Young Women’s Association in Huíla, says: “We want to work with women because it’s hard for them to take part in the vote. Often, they don’t have enough information to participate.” She adds: “We are interested in working with the project to encourage women to vote conscientiously.”
Diavavá Jaquiline de Deus, from the Council of Christian Churches in Angola (CICA), has similar expectations: “We hope that women will be the biggest group of voters in municipal elections, that they will understand the benefits of the municipal authorities, and that they will become involved in the voting process, because CICA believes that ‘my vote is my voice and my voice will help to transform my society.’”
The first municipal election in Angola was expected to be held in 2020; however, it did not move forward and a new date has not yet been set. Nonetheless, the objectives of the project remain relevant. These include strengthening the protection of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms through the promotion of spaces for debate and constructive dialogue between local authorities, citizens, and civil society; civic education activities; and support for partnerships between CSOs and public institutions.