Women’s Election Mechanism for Peace testifies to peaceful elections in South Africa

By Published On: 2nd November 2021

The Western Cape Women’s Election Mechanism for Peace (WEMP) team, under the leadership of veteran peace envoy Alison Lazarus and coordinator Felicity Harrison of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation(IJR) had few cases of violence to report during the elections held on the 1st November 2021.

The Women’s Peace Rooms had been set up in Cape Town, Gauteng and KZN to observe and lend mediation capacity to the IEC and to receive incident reports of electoral violence and GBV. A matter of concern is the fact that only 37.72% of the candidates in the Western Cape are female, despite women making up 55% of the Western Cape Voter’s role. This low representation at local government level compared to national level, is contrary to international trends.

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR); South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID); Women International Peace Centre (WIPC); African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD,) Gertrude Shope Women’s Mediation Network (GSWMN), Lady of Peace Community Foundation (LOPECO), Electoral Institute of South Africa (EISA), and Gender Links (GL) collaborated in a coordinated way to set up the SA Women’s Election Mechanism for Peace (WEMP).

The incident reports highlighted that some presiding officers were inexperienced, many of them officiating for the first time. For example, it was not clear to some presiding officers that voters who erroneously appeared on the system as having already voted, should be able to vote, but WEMP observers brought this to their attention, adding that this needed to be logged on the voter station diary, to be followed up later.

The Voter Management Devices at many voting stations were at times slow and not connecting efficiently, slowing down the voting process. The Cape Town weather also caused havoc in the early part of the day, with rainstorms causing a lack of social distancing as people clumped together under available umbrellas. There were few incidents of party scuffles in the Western Cape.

The use of the EISA Elections Local Monitoring and Observation app, (ELMO) and the WEMP toll line, assisted in the smooth reporting of observations and incidents by WEMP peace messengers on the ground.  The toll free line: 072 957 9247 worked beautifully, but the ELMO app required more time for people to acquaint themselves with its use.

Although no incidents of violence against women were reported by the peace messengers, or by women themselves using the toll-free number, WEMP envoys and advocates remain deeply aware that South Africa continues to be a country with one of the highest incidence of Gender Based Violence. The non-reporting may be an indicator of fatigue with a criminal justice system that acts too slowly, and where reporting of GBV leads to secondary attacks and victimization. We await statistics from SAPS of any reported cases of GBV that took place on election day.

It is hoped that this model of women peace rooms will contribute locally and internationally to enhancing the architecture for peace on the continent, and strengthen women’s capacity for peacemaking and peacebuilding to the benefit of the whole of society.

Prof Cheryl Hendricks – Nationally – 0827704729       TOLL FREE LINE: 072 957 9247

Alison Lazarus


Institute for Justice and Reconciliation

105 Hatfield Street

Cape Town


Ashantewaa Ngidi



2 Golf Course Drive

Mount Edgecombe


Corlette Letlojane


South African Council of Churches

62 Marshall St, Marshalltown, Johannesburg,


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