6. Information is Power - Be an Informed Leader

An effective representative is one who understands competing interests and personal and/or family demands; constituents' needs; and party and government obligations (see case study 1 used to illustrate the points).

An effective leader has to be well informed, know what is happening around him/her. He/she will of necessity have to be a researcher. He/she must be able to make analytical interpretation of trends and make intelligible projections of his/her party’s support in the area. An effective representative must get views on particular issues from different sections of the constituency. The challenge must be to find other avenues to reach out to different groupings.

During the workshop two analytic tools were introduced as useful for analysing political trends and determining one's chances in a given constituency/ward. These are the SWOT technique, which is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) strategy. The SWOT technique is a management tool used to scan the environment for a business organization. It helps to focus on internal aspects, which are

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strengths and weaknesses, and external factors, which may either be opportunities or threats or both. In this way the business can determine where it needs to focus its efforts. This approach can be applied to a political party or a constituency/ward to evaluate chances of success.

The IEC strategy on the other hand is an old approach to information dissemination commonly used in the Primary Health Care (PHC). It is simply a method of breaking information into easily absorbable units and identifying elements, which require education, and determining how to communicate them. Applying the two techniques to the two constituencies of Mogoditshane and Thamaga the workshop participants found that the Mogoditshane constituency had the following as its strengths:

  • Cheap land,
  • A rich institutional and physical infrastructure,
  • A large business community,
  • A strong relatively well trained work force, etc.

The weaknesses on the other hand were identified as:

  • The shortage of serviced commercial and residential land; poorly kept environment,
  • Poor sanitation,
  • Lack of tenure security, delayed allocation of land,
  • Rapidly changing values due to proximity to the City of Gaborone, etc.

The opportunities were identified as:

  • Expansion of Gaborone into the area,
  • New job opportunities,
  • Increase in schools and hotel services and a growing commercial market.

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The threats included:

  • The rise in crime,
  • The tendency to be perceived as the dustbin of Gaborone, ethnic tension,
  • Self-allocation of land,
  • Increasing number of unemployed youths, etc.

The question is how can the representative tackle these? Using IEC strategy participants were able to classify these issues into categories of information, education and communication. They then identified ways the representative can use to communicate these to the electorate and policy makers.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Juni 1999

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