Durban - Being a politically fragile continent, African elections are always facing integrity issues more than their global counterparts.
This is according to My Vote Counts, a non-profit organisation founded to improve accountability in South Africa.
Speaking ahead of the Electoral Accountability Summit in Africa, which will be held in Durban on Wednesday and Thursdays this week, Chris Edyegu from the organisation said free and fair elections are an essential means of accountability and are the cornerstone of a democracy.
He said unfortunately, many of Africa’s past elections have been mired in controversy.
“However, although these countries reveal progress in democratic consolidation, studies reveal that the threat to electoral integrity is greater in Africa than it is anywhere else in the world. It is for this reason that the opportune time to convene a political summit on Electoral Accountability in Africa is now,” Edyegu said
He added that despite these worrying developments, some African countries have made strides in democratisation, saying Nigeria, South Africa, and Botswana are some of the countries that stand out although some major electoral issues still remain.
“The need for electoral reform is often brought to the fore just before elections… In some countries such as South Africa, many have argued that there is a disconnect in accountability between members of parliament and voters. This is seen in that, in South Africa, although constituency offices exist, a significant number of voters don’t know about them or who their parliamentary representatives are. Members of parliament could do more to make this information available to voters.”
Other recommendations given to improve accountability include building the effectiveness of small parties, recalling ineffective elected parliamentarians, introducing party primaries.