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The Democratic Alliance Seeks Global Support to Ensure Election Integrity

Published March 11, 2024
2 months ago

The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa's major opposition party, has actively solicited assistance from Western governments in a bid to fortify the upcoming national and provincial elections against domestic and foreign disturbances. In a bold move, the DA pleaded with the international community for support in observing the elections, guiding voter education, and implementing a parallel vote tabulation (PVT) system for the 29 May electorate exercise.

Authored by the DA’s spokesperson for international relations, Emma Powell, the correspondence reached out to the foreign ministers of the G7 nations, the European Union, and four Nordic countries. This attempt at international cooperation underlines the DA's dedication to preserving the sanctity of what could be a watershed event in South Africa's vibrant democratic journey. The ANC's declining nationwide support and potential loss of power in some provinces translate into a scenario fraught with potential risks and opportunities, posing a pivotal moment for observing and ensuring electoral integrity in a transitioning political landscape.

The DA-led Multi-Party Charter (MPC), a coalition of 11 parties, earlier shared similar concerns in last month's letter to the same group of foreign ministers, cautioning them about the risks associated with the ANC's waning electoral support. Moreover, the letters elucidated the narrowing gap between political entities, which potentially heightens electoral volatility.

Despite showing confidence in the capabilities of South Africa's Electoral Commission (IEC), the DA emphasizes the need for securing the electoral process at grassroots level, where the possibility of malfeasance looms at individual polling stations. The DA's proactive approach also signals vigilance towards the burgeoning MK party established by Jacob Zuma, which, according to the opposition, may introduce violence and disrupt peaceful political discourse.

The letters openly express concerns about the ANC's potential allegiances with "malign international actors," a veiled reference to foreign entities known to exert electoral influence, as seen in interference in the political affairs of other nations like the United States.

On the homefront, the ANC has responded to the DA's global outreach with its own insinuation of inviting "friends" to the observer table, possibly extending its invitation beyond traditional allies to include non-African entities such as Russia.

Tasked with managing the foreign observer mission invitations, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) alongside the IEC, sets the policy for observation quotas. In the past, Dirco scaled back on foreign diplomatic observers under Zuma's governance, an action that continues to resonate as part of the current policy. Nevertheless, the Western governments requested for assistance confront a precarious balance: striving to support a fair electoral process on South African soil while being cautious of overstepping into perceived electoral meddling.

The escalating urgency of the DA's appeals reflects both the significance of the upcoming elections and the intricacies of international cooperation in safeguarding democratic procedures.

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