Mali: Making political parties perform better
“Political parties must be anchored in society. We want ordinary citizens to become active members of the party.”
Together with our Malian partner, the Centre pour le Dialogue Inter-Parties et la Démocratie (CMDID) NIMD promotes interparty dialogue and supports the development of political parties in Mali. Since the elections of 2007, quite a few political parties have formed parliamentary groups. In some cases these coalitions are evolving in plans to merge.
I am the General Secretary of the Parti pour la Renaissance Nationale (PARENA). We are a social democratic party. After the parliamentary elections of 2007, we formed a group with another party, SADI (Solidarity for African Development and Integration). Currently we are in the opposition. As a parliamentary group on the left we make our voice heard in the National Assembly when we believe that the government is not acting sufficiently in the interest of the people. For instance, we have voted against the privatization of a major cotton processing plant recently. We are also active on women’s rights. Activists of the group currently campaign against female circumcision in rural areas.
Since our parties have formed a parliamentary group so recently, there is still a lot of organizing to do. In 2008, the SADI-PARENA coalition has received support from NIMD to strengthen the organization, our policies and strategies. To this end, the two parties have met several times to develop a work program, setting tasks and improving our internal communication. The support has enabled us to acquire modern means of communication. We now have Internet access, and several computers and photocopiers are available. All this has helped us improve our organization, our financial administration, and the management of human resources. Because of these improvements we have become eligible for public funding in 2009. This is a direct result of the support from NIMD.
Now that we have improved our organization, we have moved on to work on policy and outreach. We want to build stronger relationships with the base. Parties must be anchored in society. We want ordinary citizens to become active members of the party. For this purpose we have created the Centre for Citizenship and Democracy. At the Centre we train people, especially women and youth, with a view to grant them a better understanding of the practices of political parties. To strengthen our coalition and eventually merge the two parties, we have also began to train people, especially young people, who can assume future leadership positions.
As General Secretary of PARENA I am also a member of the board of the Malian Centre for Interparty Dialogue and Democracy (CMID), which is supported by NIMD. I believe the ongoing dialogue between political parties is essential. It has already helped to civilize politics; it may even contribute to the political stability of the country. CMID offers a place where all political parties are welcome to work and consult documentation. The Centre also initiates debates, not only in Bamako, but also in rural areas, on issues of national interest.
Through the Centre I hope to have the opportunity to meet with politicians from other African countries this year. Particularly I would like to go to Ghana, Senegal and Benin to see how the opposition is organized there, and generally, to learn how political parties fare in countries such as Ghana, where democracy has made significant progress.”