DURBAN, Delegates from 24 African countries, who are representatives of the United Nations’ electoral management body, have paid a visit to the eastern South African province of KwaZulu-Natal as part of their mission to strengthen electoral democracy in Africa.
The main purpose of the visit this week is to interact with members of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature which has had to deal with political tensions recently but has achieved political stability despite many years of political strife, before South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.
Some current members of the legislature were part of the peace efforts in those years.
The Deputy Speaker of the provincial assembly, Meshack Hadebe, said: “We go and address communities to say we are behind the peace process where the national president of the IFP (the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party) says ‘Lay down your arms’, the leaders of the ANC (rulling African National Congress) say the same things. We also go to the hot spot areas before anybody dies.”
The delegates have just completed an intensive four-week academic programme at the University of South Africa (Unisa) on the management of democratic elections in Africa, aimed at strengthening democratic electoral systems in Africa.
The continent is plagued by the absence of political succession through the ballot box and the weakness of institutions which manage elections. Most African states battle with a lack of resources to hold elections.
Liberian delegate Michael Clarke said: “We have our presidential elections this year and our challenge is finance. The United Nations peace-keeping mission managed to finance elections in 2015 and 2011, our major challenge is getting financing going.”
In strengthening its own democratic electoral system, South Africa has established partnerships with role-players.
Observer missions have also supported the delivery of democratic elections.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK