Election Integrity 2019

The South African Council of Churches (SACC), has embarked on an election support project titled the Electoral Integrity 2019. The project is spearheaded by Reverend Mzwandile Molo, Director of Community Empowerment and Agency Provincial and Local church liaison, who joined the SACC as a full-time employee in January 2019.

The Electoral Integrity 2019 project is an expression of the commitment of the SACC to the Promise of Post-Apartheid South Africa – The South Africa We Pray 4 campaign. The campaign led to the establishment of the National Convention of South Africa, a civil society vehicle for public engagement and the mobilising of technical expertise to work together, drawing from successful cases and best available thought leadership, to craft practical solutions. It has four themes: Economic Transformation, Healing & Reconciliation, Comprehensive Quality Education, and Anchoring Democracy. The Electoral Integrity 2019 is part of Anchoring Democracy whose focus includes work such as democracy and constitution education; monitoring and overseeing electoral processes to secure peace; monitoring parliamentary processes; and being a vigilant eye for budget management and service delivery at all levels of government.

Electoral Integrity 2019 promotes local citizen responsibility for the monitoring of electoral process in their neighbourhood. Each ward or village in South Africa has no less 10 – 20 organised religious congregations of any faith tradition, but mostly Christian. The plan is to enlist the support of these ward-based congregations, and using the local presence of churches and their organisational infrastructure, in collaboration with other existing non-partisan civil society organisations, to collectively supply the needed elections observers per polling station. This to ensure that South Africa has attested credible elections that are going to be accepted by everybody as a true reflection of the will of the people. South African citizens are responsible for their democratic processes and they are also responsible for maintaining the integrity of those processes. The SACC would like to protect the integrity of the elections through the Electoral Integrity 2019 Project, in the belief that these elections can and could possibly be one of the most consequential in the history of this country because there is no obvious winner in a number of provinces. Therefore, there is a sense in which the contestation of the results might emerge.

Reverend Molo described the response to mobilise observers as interesting. “There is a great interest within churches. The numbers are reflective of the interest from the diversity of churches both from church leaders and from members of the churches who want to participate in the process.”

Ms. Nthabiseng Moopi, 26, of the Methodist Church from Klipgal Old Stand has registered as an elections observer in her area. When asked why she was interested in participating in this project she said: “This project gives me the opportunity to learn more about the electoral system and the rules for voting. It gives me the opportunity to do good for my community and country at large, whilst also learning about the IEC and the voting process.”

Another volunteer who has registered as an observer, Ms. Motshidiso Motshibedi, 33, said, “The current state of our country is the reason why I volunteered to be an observer this year. I’m tired of hearing stories about people rigging the elections. I believe this is the time for us as youth to stand up and have a voice. I am hoping to gain knowledge from the training given to us so that I can do it again in the next elections and encourage my siblings to join in as well.”

Mr. Julius Mohobe, 38, from Majakaneng in Tshwane said: “I want to see that the elections are free and fair because most of the time things tend to go wrong and the outcomes of the elections are not genuine. I want to be there so that I can personally make sure that everything is done by the book. I think I will get a clear picture of how South Africans will be responding to these elections and where actually is going. The political parties involved all have different manifestos; it will also give me first-hand experience to see which party has done well.”

What the Council asks through this process is for Christians and all members of society to make themselves available to observe elections in a manner that gives added credibility of the elections by providing an impartial, non-partisan presence at polling stations, and support the IEC in doing their work. It is on that basis that the SACC gets itself involved as part of its own commitment to social justice and most importantly to active citizenry.

“We believe it is our Christian duty and as well as our citizens’ duty to participate in the process of making sure that these elections are conducted with integrity, and nobody has reason to protest or condemn the results thereof,” said Rev. Molo.