Electoral processes

Promoting best practices for electoral management bodies in Southern Africa

Members of the Somali parliament, representatives of civil society organizations and members of the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) gathered in Mogadishu to discuss Somalia's upcoming elections in Mogadishu on 22 January 2020.

By organizing events, International IDEA supported electoral management bodies in the southern Africa region to generate lessons to effectively implement the electoral cycle approach.

The electoral cycle approach recognizes the importance of post-election assessments and evaluations for lesson learning and developing the electoral reform agenda. Eight elections were held in southern Africa in 2019, which led to landmark events in the region. The Malawi High Court overturned the results of the 2019 presidential elections in January 2020, and landmark court judgements in South Africa significantly amended the country’s electoral system after 25 years of multiparty democracy. 

As part of its efforts to promote lesson learning at the national and subregional levels, International IDEA’s Electoral Processes and Africa and West Asia teams, in collaboration with the Electoral Commissions Forum of Southern African Development Community Countries (ECF-SADC), organized a webinar to review the 2019–2020 elections in Malawi and assess developing trends in electoral justice in the region. The webinar provided a platform to draw lessons on the judiciary’s role in strengthening democracy in the region and the importance of electoral systems in promoting inclusive electoral processes. The report on the webinar has been disseminated to ECF SADC member commissions and will serve as the basis for further collaboration on the themes of electoral justice and EMB independence in the region. 

At the national level, the Africa and West Asia team provided technical assistance to Botswana’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to conduct its national stakeholder post-election evaluation workshop. The workshop provided a platform for feedback from the country’s national stakeholders on the conduct of the 2019 elections. Stakeholders identified the emerging risks associated with using social media in election campaigns as well as opportunities to strengthen the IEC’s institutional independence and credibility. The workshop made recommendations to guide the IEC in developing a reform agenda over the next electoral cycle. International IDEA will continue to provide support to the electoral process in Botswana, which is an International IDEA Member State. 


‘The year 2020 saw the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which greatly impacted the mode of operations for many organizations. The ECF-SADC was not spared the impact of the pandemic, which necessitated the suspension of staff travels and physical or on-sight meetings. With the support of International IDEA, the ECF-SADC was able to continue with its mandate of promoting peer learning and experience sharing among EMBs in the SADC region through the webinars and the virtual Annual General Conference of the Forum.

International IDEA’s culture of documentation and publication has strengthened the ECF-SADC mandate of promoting knowledge base and expertise on electoral matters. All proceedings of activities were professionally captured, shared for input by other relevant stakeholders and documented for publication on various online platforms. The availability of meeting recordings provided efficient backup for capturing proceedings.’ 

Hilda Modisane, Executive Secretary of ECF-SADC


Feature photo: AMISOM/Steven Candia