Today is a very special and historic day for the Electoral Commission of South Africa. On behalf of the Commission, we welcome delegates from 63 countries, including new members coming to our shores from all regions of the world, to attend the Association of World Elections Bodies (A-WEB)’s first and historic meeting on the African continent.

This A-WEB 5th General Assembly, which incorporates the A-WEB Executive Board Meeting and an International Conference, gets underway today – October 18th – with delegates from electoral authorities all over the world. The proceedings will commence with the meeting of the Executive Board being chaired by Mr. Rajiv Kumar, Chief Election Commissioner of India and current Chairperson of A-WEB, taking place this afternoon and the General Assembly tomorrow, 19 October 2022, where the Election Commission of India will hand-over the A-WEB Chair to the Electoral Commission of South Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver an opening address to the General Assembly tomorrow.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa is particularly pleased that it will take over the chairpersonship of this August global body and will have the opportunity to lead it, and serve the objectives of electoral democracy even as it enriches the organisation with the African experience, during the course of our tenure. We currently act as Deputy Chairperson of A-WEB and, in accordance with the processes of the A-WEB, we will succeed India at this meeting as the A-WEB chairperson. Accordingly, the Commission acknowledges and pays tribute to, Mr Glen Mashinini who served as the Deputy Chairperson of A-WEB on our behalf, and the Electoral Commission of India, led by its Chairperson and outgoing Chair of A-WEB, Mr Rajiv Kumar, for their sterling leadership of this important organisation – especially during the turbulent times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Electoral Commission of South Africa accepts the enormity of the challenge that it is assuming through being entrusted with the chairpersonship of this world body. The Commission looks forward to working with sister Election Management Bodies – in particular our African colleagues – to raise electoral excellence in electoral democracy not only within Africa, but across the world.

Part of the business of the General Assembly will be to elect the next Vice-Chairperson of A-WEB. Five contestants, namely Ethiopia, Colombia, Philippines, Uzbekistan and Kosovo, are in contention for this position. The eventual Deputy Chairperson will automatically assume the role of the next chairperson in 2024 at the 6th General Assembly. At this meeting, there will also be elections of the members of the Executive Board. The General Assembly will be followed by an International Conference whose theme is: “Safeguarding Election Management Bodies in the Age of Global Democratic Recession”. This theme addresses one of the most pressing questions of our time – the erosion of electoral democracy in different parts of the world. The Commission is extremely proud that this important discussion is taking place on South African soil.

The business of the International Conference is important to sustaining electoral democracy and, as such, it is anticipated that this conference will generate ideas to mitigate the erosion of electoral democracy globally. In line with the expected outcomes of the conference, the Commission has invited internationally renowned scholars to present papers on the conference theme. Former President, Thabo Mbeki, will also be a guest speaker at this international conference. Other national participants in the conference will include members of the National Party Liaison Committee, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, heads of Institutions Supporting Democracy and our local researchers.

The Commission is particularly pleased to convey to South Africans a message of gratitude from the leadership of A-WEB, who have commended the facilities and logistical arrangements for this historic event and are looking forward to galvanizing the passion of democrats the world over so as to strengthen electoral democracy across the world. Copies of the programme of the international conference are available.

The Commission’s delegation will be led by our newly-appointed Chairperson of the Commission, Mosotho Moepya, while the secretariat of A-WEB will be led by a new Secretary-General, to be elected at this General Assembly. We thank our outgoing Chairperson of A-WEB, Rajiv Kumar. for his work and commitment to this international organisation and his focus on making A-WEB an active platform for sharing of best practices of member countries.

As our Chief Electoral Officer, Sy Mamabolo, has said: “The moment for which we have invested so much time has arrived. We are confident that the preparations made will meet the international standards necessary for such an august event.”

“The Commission warmly welcomes the world to South Africa. We are honoured to host the A-WEB family, the global experts on elections, and all stakeholders so that, together, we shine a light on how we can all join hands to build a future of our dreams. We look forward to an exciting exchange around best practices internationally on measures to mitigate the effects of the democratic recession on our work.”

Statement of Support by the Secretariat of the Association of World Election Bodies at the 5th General Assembly and International Conference By A-WEB Director General Jaewon Kim First, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for South African people’s interest in and expectations of A-WEB, a platform to facilitate exchange and promote cooperation among election management bodies.

I would like to gratefully acknowledge Chairperson Mosotho Moepya and all of the Electoral Commission of South Africa for their commitment to making the General Assembly meeting a great success. I felt how hard all of the Electoral Commission of South Africa have worked to make this event possible. I also would like to express my appreciation to all delegates of member organizations for traveling a long distance to grace us with your presence.

Together with the Electoral Commission of South Africa, the A-WEB Secretariat will do its utmost efforts in making the General Assembly fruitful by facilitating discussions and the exchange of experiences among participants.

A-WEB was founded in October 2013 with the vision: to foster efficiency and effectiveness in conducting free, fair, transparent, and participative elections around the world. Since then, it has been committed to fulfilling its vision and missions by identifying the latest trends, challenges, and developments in democratic electoral administration and management through research and publication in collaboration with its members and partner organizations.

It will continue to strive to promote election administration and management by facilitating the exchange of experience and expertise among member organizations. I feel confident that the 5th General Assembly meeting and the international conference which take place in Cape Town, South Arica will provide an opportunity to promote A-WEB’s vision and mission.

The Secretariat will double its efforts to increase exchanges and promote cooperation among election management bodies around the world. And I believe incoming Chairperson Moepya with his outstanding leadership will make remarkable achievements during his chairmanship.

I sincerely hope that the 5th General Assembly meeting will mark a milestone in the development of electoral administration and management. For that, all members of A-WEB will join the effort.

Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to our outgoing Chairperson Rajiv Kumar for his dedication to the development of A-WEB during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you

Ensuring free, fair and credible elections

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