In a candid address that underscores the universal complexities of democratic elections, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently weighed in on the state of electoral politics—not just in Zimbabwe, but around the globe.
Following the recent elections in Zimbabwe, which have attracted international scrutiny, President Ramaphosa said, “The issue of democratic elections… Elections are quite messy, most of the time. There’s no real perfect election. I can tell you that.”
The South African leader’s comments arrive at a moment when discussions about electoral integrity are gaining traction worldwide, including in the United States, which has faced its own set of election-related controversies in recent years.
Emphasizing that the challenges are not confined to any one nation or continent, Ramaphosa pointed out, “This is the contestation amongst candidates, amongst parties, and it often results in disputes, in doubts, and certain practices not having been fully adhered to.”
The President further added, “And it happens all over the world, I mean even in what one can say is a so-called big democracy, not as big as India of course, America. I mean just look at what happened in the last election in America, those who claim that they’re the biggest democracy in the world, it also happens to them.”
President Ramaphosa urged for a nuanced approach to assessing electoral outcomes, particularly on the African continent, stating, “So let’s not really harshly judge the outcome on our Continent.”
He expressed optimism that electoral systems are constantly evolving through observation and critique. “I think the participants or countries that go through these elections often say they listen very carefully to election observers, and they pick up a lot of lessons and a lot of experience, and a lot of recommendations and advice.”
Ramaphosa’s comments can be interpreted as a call for empathy and understanding across national boundaries, and an acknowledgement of the universal challenges inherent in the democratic process. While many nations may aim for the ideal of a perfect election, the President’s message is clear: the journey towards electoral integrity is complex and fraught with difficulties, no matter where it is taking place.
His statement also serves as a reminder that while democratic elections may vary in form and function across different countries, the challenges they face can often be strikingly similar.
As nations around the world strive for more transparent, fair, and inclusive electoral systems, President Ramaphosa’s candid remarks provide food for thought, challenging us all to recognize the inherent imperfections in even the most established democracies.