The Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission (ECCOC) – a body made up of religious and civil society leaders – will once again play a key role in making sure that Wednesday's local government elections in South Africa are free and fair.
ECCOC works in conjunction with the Independent Electoral Commission and it aims to help create and maintain conditions in which elections run smoothly.
One of its tasks is to ensure that political parties and their leaders understand that they should not incite violence and instability at a time when tensions could be running high.
“Political leaders should not be irresponsible and part of ECCOC’s role is to ensure that they behave in a responsible manner on election day. We want to be the first port of call if anyone feels uncomfortable about anything related to the elections,” said ECCOC’s chairperson, Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.
ECCOC’s 15 members are drawn from various faith communities, with a few from civil society.
ECCOC operates mainly in the Cape metropolitan area and, on election day, sends observers to voting stations around the broader Cape Peninsula. They monitor whether presiding officers are doing their jobs properly and whether elections are conducted in an efficient manner.
ECCOC as an organisation attempts to be impartial as far as party politics is concerned and its members are present at polling stations as objective observers.
“We help to defuse tense situations if there are any. We hope that political parties and the electorate see our presence as helping to ensure that there is a moral presence on election day,” said Archbishop Mokgoba.