Photo: US Ambassador, Honourable Lisa Peterson addressing the meeting.
Democracy Works Foundation Eswatini successfully hosted an Electoral Reform Multi-Stakeholder Engagement Meeting on 27 August 2020 at The George Hotel in Manzini, under the Inclusive Policy Development & Dialogue Programme (IPDDP). Several electoral reform stakeholders participated in the meeting, including the Elections & Boundaries Commission, the Commission on Human Rights & Public Administration Integrity Eswatini, the Eswatini Elections Support Network from the Coordinating Assembly on NGOs, Honorable Ambassador to the United States Lisa Peterson and the US Embassy team, as well as the Women & Law in Southern Africa. National media publications the Times of Eswatini and the Eswatini Observer covered the event. The Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs participated virtually, through its Principal Secretary Lorraine Hlophe and Legal Advisor Nosipho Mazibuko. DWF Chief of Party Dr Augustine Magolowondo also attended virtually.
Photo: DWF Eswatini Country Director, Melusi Matsenjwa.
The meeting marked the launch of the electoral reform pillar of the IPDDP in the country, as well as officially announcing the presence of DWF in Eswatini. Another objective of the meeting was to ensure open deliberations between stakeholders on the roles that each can play in promoting inclusive elections, especially for women, youth and Persons with Disabilities. Stakeholders agreed on the need for continued interactions on matters of electoral reform, as well as on the need to form an Elections Reference Group comprising all key stakeholders and entrusted with the responsibility to share experiences, knowledge and guarantee programme implementation to strengthen the administration and management of elections in the country. The US Ambassador challenged everyone at the meeting to immediately initiate and sustain constructive engagements on electoral reform, especially ahead of the 2023 national elections, to ensure optimal use of the remaining time for meaningful advocacy for women and youth election and appointment into public office.
The US Ambassador also stated that the responsibility to build a strong and resilient democracy was continuous and never-ending. “Votes don’t operate in a vacuum; for any election to be fair and credible, it must be free from fraudulent events and activities, and this provides an important responsibility for the IPDDP in ensuring that electoral processes and outcomes occur without any form of electoral fraud in the country”.