Former President Thabo Mbeki has highlighted the importance of strong election management bodies (EMBs) in promoting development. He was speaking on the second day of the Association of World Election Bodies (AWEB) conference taking place in Cape Town.
Mbeki says that EMBs must be empowered to deliver credible elections that can produce the kind of leadership that is fit to promote democracy.
“It goes without saying that nothing succeeds by default; that the success of a democracy that delivers improved livelihoods for the majority of its people requires deliberate steps to be taken towards such attainment. One of these steps involves the processes by which the people are able to choose who should govern and how any mandate is given to or withdrawn from those who are elected and given their importance in this regard I am convinced that this EMBs meeting at this AWEB conference must formulate and communicate their collective views that attend the challenge that the people will govern.”
Representatives of EMBs, political parties, academics and civil society organisations are attending the conference. The theme is “Safeguarding Election Management Bodies in the age of Global Democratic Recession”.
Earlier, the outgoing chair of AWEB Rajiv Kumar outlined the risks that these bodies face in their bid to organise credible elections.
“They are coming from non-inclusivity, they are coming from social media fake narratives, they are coming from young voters often not coming to vote, they are also coming from the inadequacies in legislative regimes in terms of empowerment and independence of election management bodies. So today’s challenges require very resolute answers for these situations for which the empowerment of electoral bodies is critical.”
‘Does democracy fit your context?’
University of Johannesburg’s Khabele Matlosa says the quality of a country’s democracy must be judged by the developmental outcomes it delivers.
Matlosa observes that democracy on the African continent was a legacy of the colonial era.
“Not to say you are more democratic than the other but your democracy does it fit your context and more centrally if we are to judge the quality and substance of democracy chair. In my view, we need to judge it by its development outcomes. Does it deliver development to the countries that it is serving? For me, that is the biggest assessment.
SA elected Vice-Chairperson of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) for a 2-year term. @AWEB2013 has 115 member countries & aims to achieve sustainable democracy worldwide by strengthening election management basics in countries. https://t.co/mZk3mFElox pic.twitter.com/xvyVGZFwPj
— IEC South Africa (@IECSouthAfrica) October 1, 2019