Let us uphold the integrity of our democracy - Mosotho Moepya

The IEC has called on all parties to adhere to the Code of Conduct. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

The IEC has called on all parties to adhere to the Code of Conduct. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 12, 2024


By Mosotho Moepya

South Africa stands on the threshold of a significant moment in our nation's history. As we mark three decades of a legacy bestowed upon us by generations of tireless leaders and ordinary citizens, we recognise the invaluable gift of democracy - a treasure earned through struggle, sacrifice, and unwavering determination.

This gift demands our utmost reverence, protection, and cultivation, and one of the most profound expressions of our commitment to this legacy is the conduct of regular, free, and fair elections.

This achievement brings immense pride in the Electoral Commission, an institution that has consistently delivered credible local elections over the past 30 years.

Our unwavering dedication to conducting quality elections has been instrumental in fostering the steady growth and confidence of our democracy, even amidst the challenges posed by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

However, with freedom comes great responsibility. The Constitution affords political parties, independent candidates, and citizens the freedom to contest elections for public office.

However, this freedom carries with it significant responsibilities. Our founding leaders foresaw this and enshrined the responsibilities of political parties and citizens in various statutes to guide their conduct in alignment with our pluralistic society's vision.

Recently, the commission hosted an event which holds profound significance. Together with South Africans, we witnessed leaders of parties represented in the National Party Liaison Committee and independent candidates publicly pledge to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct for the forthcoming elections.

This code provides the framework for conduct consistent with the vision of our democratic forebears, who envisioned a society at peace with itself and all its constituents. It is a statutory instrument for realising free and fair elections, requiring profound political leadership as its observance reflects not only our commitment as democrats but also our collective dedication to orderly public affairs.

As leaders, we bear the responsibility of guiding our nation towards a vision of peace and tranquillity. Every political party contesting these elections, regardless of size or representation, must adhere to the Code of Conduct. This entails taking reasonable steps to ensure compliance, committing to the principles of free expression and democratic debate, and recognizing the authority of the Electoral Commission in the conduct of elections.

Beyond adherence to the code, political parties, independent candidates, and citizens alike must actively promote awareness of the code's purpose and support efforts to educate voters. Furthermore, certain behaviours, such as inciting violence, intimidation, spreading false information, or abusing positions of power, are strictly prohibited and must be met with swift accountability measures.

In cases of infringement, the Electoral Court holds jurisdiction over electoral disputes and complaints regarding code violations. Additionally, in light of the rise of digital disinformation, the Electoral Commission, in collaboration with Media Monitoring Africa, has established an online reporting platform, "The Real 411," to address instances of digital disinformation during the upcoming elections.

As we forge ahead towards the May 29 elections, the commission assures readiness, having certified the voters' roll and published lists of candidates. With a record-breaking number of candidates and unprecedented voter engagement, we are poised for an exciting yet peaceful electoral process. I implore all participants to uphold the integrity of our democracy, respecting the rules set forth in the Code of Conduct, and ensuring a conducive environment for campaigning and voting.

I urge all South Africans to cooperate with commission officials at polling stations and exercise their democratic right with pride and responsibility. Our democracy is in our hands - let us cherish it, protect it, and let our voices be heard through the ballot box.

It is your democracy, South Africa. Own it.

*Moepya is the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC)

**The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL