Glen Mashanini, Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), has praised the work of the Election Commission of India (ECI) as an example for the entire world.
Mashanini was speaking at a lecture on Tuesday at the offices of Anju Ranjan, the Indian Consul General in Johannesburg, and Jaideep Sarkar, the High Commissioner in Pretoria.
The event, themed ‘Story of the World’s Largest Democracy’s Elections,’ was supposed to take place on November 26 to commemorate India’s Constitution Day, but it had to be postponed due to the key speakers being unavailable due to prior obligations, according to Ranjan.
“India’s storey is not just about the world’s largest elections,” Mashanini added, “but also about an ancient civilisation that was broken by empire and colonialism.”
“(Seventy-five years ago) India accepted the modern, current ideas of constitutional democracy, which the electoral commission continues to carry with distinction to this day.”
“The ECI serves as a wellspring of knowledge, wisdom, and experience for all of us as electoral management bodies working around the world,” he stated.
Mashanini emphasised the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela in encouraging people to oppose colonialism, racism, and apartheid, saying both countries had prevailed over these bad practises and now have constitutional democracies.
“South Africa is indebted to India, one of the world’s largest, oldest, and most powerful democracies, for its support in our struggle to end apartheid and in the national project to deepen and enhance democracy,” he added.
Mashanini stated that the South African Constitution, which was lauded around the world, included teachings from India.
Umesh Sinha, Secretary-General of the ECI, offered an outline of how India organised elections to guarantee that no voter was left behind.
Sinha stated that the COVID-19 outbreak compelled a reconsideration of systems, which included the use of postal ballots for the first time.
Sushil Chandra, India’s Chief Election Commissioner, described how election officers travelled for four days to visit a single voter in a remote place, traversing forest and walking through rocky terrain to uphold the country’s credo of protecting every voter’s right.
Chandra, who is also the president of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB), stated that India’s relationship with South Africa is unique, recalling the strong collaboration between the IEC and the ECI, as well as his personal interaction with Mashanini, the current Vice President of A-WEB.
Mashanini stated that he is looking forward to South Africa hosting the next A-WEB meeting in 2022, as well as India turning over the presidency to his country.