S African electoral body lauds Indian counterpart as example for world

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 2: Chairperson of Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) Glen Mashanini has lauded the work of the Election Commission of India (ECI) as an example for the entire world.
Mashanini was speaking at a seminar on Tuesday at the offices of Indian Consul General in Johannesburg Anju Ranjan and High Commissioner Jaideep Sarkar in Pretoria.
Ranjan said the event, titled ‘Story of World’s Largest Democracy’s Elections’, was planned to take place to mark India’s Constitution Day on November 26, but had to be postponed due to the main speakers being unavailable because of prior commitments.
“India’s story is not just about the world’s largest elections but also the story of an ancient civilisation that got disrupted by imperialism and colonialism,” Mashanini said.
“(Seventy-five years ago) India embraced the modern, contemporary principles of constitutional democracy which the electoral commission is carrying, to this day, the particular baton with distinction.
“The ECI provides the fountain of knowledge, understanding, and experience for all of us as electoral management bodies that are serving throughout the world,” he said.
Highlighting the roles of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela in leading people to fight colonialism, racism and apartheid, Mashanini said both countries had triumphed over these evil practices to have constitutional democracies today.
“South Africa remains indebted for the support that India, one of the biggest, oldest and strongest democracies, has given to our struggle to end apartheid and to the national project to deepen and strengthen democracy,” he added.
Mashanini said the Constitution of South Africa, which was praised by the world, included lessons from India.
Umesh Sinha, ECI Secretary General, provided an overview of how India conducted elections to ensure its goal of leaving no voter behind.
Sinha said the COVID-19 pandemic had forced a review of processes to include postal ballots for the first time.
Chief Election Commissioner of India Sushil Chandra gave examples of how electoral officers travelled for four days to reach a single voter in a remote area, traversing forest and trekking over mountainous terrain to live up to its motto of ensuring every voter’s right.
Chandra, who is also the president of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB), said India’s relations with South Africa was unique as he recalled the close relationship between the IEC and the ECI, as well as his personal interaction with Mashanini, who is the current Vice President of A-WEB.
Mashanini said he was looking forward to South Africa hosting the next gathering of A-WEB in 2022, and India handing over the Presidency to his country. (PTI)