Pretoria, 17 December 2020 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa and the Electoral Independent Commission of South Africa (IEC) are launching a partnership agreement, dubbed “U Count” which aims to enhance the electoral processes in a number of areas. The two entities have signed a project agreement thereby help consolidate and build further on the gains made from the democratic transition process in South Africa since the first multi-party democratic elections in 1994. The partnership runs from January 2021 to December 2025.
“The Electoral Commission and UNDP in South Africa has had a very long and treasured relationship since 1997 when the first commissioners were appointed to the permanent IEC. UNDP was one of the first bodies the IEC went to consult on building up a voter’s roll and conducting elections in order to continue the consolidation of electoral democracy in South Africa, and since then we have collaborated with the UNDP in the delivery of elections in a number of African countries such as DRC, South Sudan, Liberia and recently in the Central African Republic” said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the Electoral Commission, Mr Sy Mamabolo.
The project’s five focus areas include inter alia outputs that are as follows:
a) strengthen the South African domestic elections observer programme;
b) support to the efforts of both the IEC and external stakeholders (the education sector, civil society, traditional authority in the rural communities) in delivering effective women and youth-led voter and civic education;
c) support for strengthening the institutional memory and thought leadership of the IEC in matters related to electoral research and the creation of a knowledge hub (as well as the IEC delivery of assistance in the region);
d) innovations (largely digital) in electoral operations and the electoral process, and;
e) strengthening of gender mainstreaming and women empowerment in the IEC plans, processes and outcomes, and focusing on influencing and advocating for gender responsiveness on the part of political parties.
“The overall objective of this partnership is to see the IEC becoming the pace setter of electoral process in Africa so that it becomes a regional hub that we can be proud of” said UNDP Resident Representative Dr Ayodele Odusola. “COVID-19 has also brought us a new normal that has strengthen our partnership where we would have to be innovative and think about integrating ICT in the electoral process because there is no way we can continue as usual post COVID-19” added Dr Odusola.
U Count will tap into UNDP’s comparative advantage in building both the institutional capacity of electoral management bodies to almost 100-member states, as well as fostering South-South exchange. The Project will also reflect UN’s ‘Delivering as One’ principles in its implementation, as all agencies will be working together in the UN system to achieve the objectives of this project. UNDP is the designated implementing agency, but will engage and collaborate with both UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF to ensure implementation effectiveness. The project will be delivered on a multi-year basis, until end of 2025. The latter part of the final year will include an evaluation to allow for reflection, identification of any further needs, and with an exit strategy that emphasizes sustainability and institutional capacity, while also strengthening needs for the next cycle of elections.
Also present in the signing ceremony were the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Mawethu Mosery, and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Gabriel Dava.
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United Nations Development Programme, Bobby Shabangu: 0720679593/
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