Sushil Chandra, the chief election commissioner of India, led a delegation to South Africa and Mauritius from April 9-19, 2022. A series of meetings were held with the Election Commission of South Africa and Mauritius during this visit. There was also a lot of interaction with the NRI community in both countries. Both Election Management Bodies (EMBs) and ECI have MOUs. There’s a special bond between the three countries rooted in the collective experiences and collective strength of their people. The CEC urged Indian community members to register as overseas voters, as the present numbers are so low. Additionally, he told them that the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) might be extended to overseas voters.

A major highlight of the visit was the rare occasion of a tripartite meeting between ECI, Mr. Glen Mashinini, Chairperson, Electoral Commission of South Africa and Mr. Jonghyun Choe, Secretary General, Association of World Election Bodies (AWEB) held at Pretoria on 12th April 2022. India is currently the Chair of AWEB, the largest conglomeration of 118 EMBs of the world and South Africa is the Vice Chair.

It was the right time to reflect on the way forward for AWEB, as the organization completes ten years since its founding and steps into a new decade. AWEB offers a unique way for its members to exchange knowledge and information. The meeting acknowledged that this umbrella organization had EMBs with a lot of experience and expertise who could help and advice those EMBs looking to develop and upgrade their systems. The focus must now be on growing membership and making members feel like they belong. The members need more ways to interact and meet up.

CEC Shri Sushil Chandra thanked the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of South Africa for setting up the meeting.  According to him, South Africa has made great strides in democracy, and will host the next General Assembly of AWEB in October 2022. India has a very close relationship with AWEB. Both India and South Africa are founding members. He stated that coming to the land which made Mahatma out of Gandhiji, and the land of Nelson Mandela was a veritable pilgrimage for him.

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