South Africa assumes chairmanship of Association of World Election Bodies

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged his support to the IEC following its assumption as the chair of the Association of World Election Bodies (AWEB). This is the world’s largest international organisation in the field of election management.

The Commission’s newly-appointed chair, Mosostho Moepya took over the reins from India’s Rajiv Kumar at the 5th General Assembly taking place in Cape Town under the theme “Safeguarding Election Management Bodies in the age of global democratic recession”.

This comes at a time when they say electoral democracy is under threat. The IEC will use this opportunity to build the organisation and foster cooperation in best practices with organisations from 63 countries across the globe.

“Friends distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen on behalf of the Electoral Commission of South Africa, I accept with great humility the responsibility bestowed on us and the African continent by the AWEB family to act as chairperson for the next two years,” says South Africa’s newly appointed Chair of the Electoral Commission Mosotho Moepya.

Moepya was elated as he took the helm of the Association for World Electoral Bodies. The chairship of AWEB marks a major milestone both for the Independent Electoral Commission and the African continent, which has until now never headed the entity.

President Ramaphosa has pledged his support to the IEC saying all sectors of society must come together to mitigate the risks facing democratically elected governments.

“Building democracies that are resilient and sustainable is a collaborative effort and this assembly brings together electoral bodies, development bodies, civil society, the media and other stakeholders by enhancing the operational capacity of electoral bodies through coordination, through training skilling and effective leadership we can take forward democratic gains in both established and emerging democracies.”

Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Janet Love says there are indeed tangible signs that democracy is under threat, saying AWEB’s 5th General Assembly is timely.

“It is a time when democracy is under threat on all continents across the world not only is Europe caught in the grip of war but the foundations and pillars of some of the world’s oldest democracies have been shaken and tested how can we not take note of January 6, 2021, events at Capitol Hill in the USA and on our own continent the resurgence of military takeovers from democratically elected governments in parts of Africa threatens to smother the growth of electoral democracy.”

The outgoing Chair of AWEB, Rajiv Kumar has called for the organisation to develop standard protocols for use by all election management bodies to ensure the integrity of democracies globally.

“Benchmarks for certain aspects of election management which may be known as AWEB Global Standards and will help EMBs achieve these goals by saying what should be the infrastructure at the polling station, what should be the accessibility initiatives, how do we increase the participation of women PWD senior citizens marginalised communities tackle various malpractices control election-related expenditure increase security tackle misinformation.

The new AWEB chair intends to hit the ground running, he will oversee the process of the election of the Deputy Chairperson of the World’s body and efforts are already underway to establish a portal of best practices related to electoral administration.

The conference will continue on Thursday with a discussion focused on strategies to ensure electoral management bodies are the last line of defence against a growing distrust in democracy, its institutions and processes.

Former President Thabo Mbeki is expected to attend.