Since September 2013, NDI is implementing the Tomikotisa program, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “Tomikotisa” is Lingala for “participation” or “engagement.” The three-year program seeks to increase the managerial and organizational capacity, accountability, and responsiveness of Congolese political parties by modernizing internal party processes and increasing participation and inclusion of marginalized groups, notably women and youth. Six of the DRC’s leading political parties (three from the majority coalition and three from the opposition) receive technical assistance under the program. Since the official launch of Tomikotisa in January 2014, the Institute has undertaken a baseline assessment of party strengths and weaknesses, implemented several capacity building initiatives with women and youth leagues, and used public opinion research to inform political parties of public concerns. At the request of political parties, the Institute continues to deliver assistance and to facilitate multi-party consensus-building on national priority issues among women and youth. As the DRC moves closer to the 2015 local and 2016 national elections, the Institute will provide election-related technical assistance to parties under the Tomikotisa program.
Enhancing Prospects for Candidate Debates
With funding from the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, the Institute is working with civic groups, political parties and media to enhance the likelihood that candidate debates will take place during the next election cycle and build the organizational capacity of debate conveners before the 2016 presidential election. This program is conducted in partnership with the Tomikotisa program. Specifically, this program promotes debate culture among political parties, civil society organizations and the media by encouraging candidates to engage in issue-based debates with their political opponents. The program is engaging civic groups, political parties and media to further the emergence of a credible and trusted debate convener. The Institute has established a debate steering committee and is regularly meeting with candidates and organizers to set the stage for pilot debates for the 2015 local elections.
Strengthening Women’s Capacity as Candidates for Local Elections
With funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), NDI is strengthening the capacity of Congolese women in political parties and local activists to compete as candidates in local elections through participation in a “campaign academy.” Through the academy, NDI has trained potential women candidates on the analysis of their political environmental, ethics, resource mobilization and campaigning. The program includes building a core group of trainers who will conduct in-party training for additional potential women candidates. NDI plans to distribute locally-adapted “issues primers” on education, health, markets, security, urbanism and leisure that the Institute developed in collaboration with the Kinshasa-based Réseau Gouvernance Economique et Démocratie (REGED) to help potential women candidates deepen their understanding of local issues.
Building Congolese Political Party Capacity to Respond to Citizens’ Needs
From February 2012 to March 2013, a NED-funded program helped political parties advance people-oriented policies and reestablish channels for dialogue with citizens. By working with political parties and using focus group research findings, NDI helped to foster peaceful dialogue and strengthened parties’ ability to develop and communicate policy positions through a combination of multiparty workshops, individualized technical assistance and public forums.
Facilitating Information Sharing Among Congolese Political and Civic Leaders on the United States Electoral Process
With funding from the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, NDI promoted broad-based discussions among Congolese political and civic leaders on elections and their impact on the DRC’s democratization process. NDI’s program convened participants for events that spotlighted three high-profile elements of the American presidential election – presidential debates, party conventions and election day balloting – with the aim of informing ongoing discussions on electoral reform.
Strengthening Political Party Competition in the 2011 Elections
In June 2011, NDI reopened its office in Kinshasa to conduct a political party strengthening program. Funded by the NED, the program aimed to help Congolese political parties compete in the 2011 elections by sharing best practices and strategies from successful campaigns. The Institute also supported opportunities for inter-party dialogue on the election process and helped to familiarize parties with the legal channels available for resolving election disputes nonviolently.
During the 2004 to 2007 election cycle, the Institute’s programming focused on preparing Congo’s new democratic institutions for the national and provincial elections and on reinforcing the development of those institutions in the post-election period. NDI’s assistance — financed by the NED, USAID and others — targeted four categories of political actors:
Political parties: NDI organized the Cadre de Concertation (dialogue platform), which assembled political parties and election officials in a neutral forum to discuss concerns on the 2006 electoral process. The Institute also trained poll-watchers to observe the 2005 referendum and 2006 election cycle, offered campaign trainings for candidates and sponsored national debates. After the election, NDI continued to provide parties with trainings on organization, recruitment, financing and communication and helped them form caucuses in the new legislature.
Domestic election monitoring organizations: NDI provided support to civil society organizations (CSOs) to identify, recruit, train and deploy more than 1,000 volunteers to monitor the 2006 electoral process across the DRC.
The National Assembly: Prior to the 2006 elections, NDI provided extensive support to the National Assembly to refine the draft constitution, write the electoral law and revise laws on political party financing and the status of the opposition. Following the elections, the Institute assisted the Committee on Political, Administrative and Judicial Affairs (PAJ) as its members continued to revise key laws. NDI also helped the Economic and Finance Committee review the national budget. NDI established a legislative task force of local experts to answer the Assembly’s requests for support, and trained new party caucuses in strategic planning.
Women: In the DRC, women learned to use the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (iKNOW Politics), an online network for women in politics. The Institute supported the development of a women’s legislative caucus to bring together members of the National Assembly promoting legislation of special concern to women and encouraging their participation in committees and party caucuses.
NDI’s efforts throughout the country were aided by its network of Democracy Resource Centers, maintained from 2004 through 2007 in the cities of Goma, Kikwit, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi. The centers provided political parties and CSOs with access to information and logistical support to support effective participation in the political process and served as a much-needed neutral space for inter-party dialogue.
During the inter-Congolese dialogue in 2001 - 2002, NDI facilitated discussion and information-sharing among Congolese political groups that did not participate in the country’s civil war, helping them to play a constructive and meaningful role in the dialogue.
For more information about these programs or to receive our monthly updates via email, use our contact form or contact:
Grant Godfrey, senior program manager