9 May 2014
The African Union’s (AU’s) election observer mission has declared South Africa’s 2014 national and provincial elections as free, fair, transparent and credible. “The elections were also peaceful and reflect the wishes and aspirations of South Africans,” the mission said in its preliminary report on Friday.
The mission will release its final and comprehensive report two months after the elections.
Officials from the 54-member strong observer mission were deployed in all the nine provinces. Led by former Ghanaian president John Kufuor, the mission was made up of representatives from the Pan African Parliament, human rights groups and civil society from over 25 African countries.
Releasing the report to the media in Pretoria, the deputy head of the mission, Ibrahim Fall, who is also a former assistant secretary-general to the United Nations, said they were pleased with the general political and electoral environment.
Fall said the mission noted that the parties conducted themselves in accordance with the electoral law. “The general political and electoral environment was generally peaceful across the country, with voters being able to exercise their right to vote.
“There was also a high level of tolerance between the contesting political parties and their supporters. The mission also noted the professionalism of the security forces,” he told journalists at the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) national results centre in Pretoria.
Regarding the preparedness of the IEC, the mission observed that the commission’s personnel were adequately trained in all aspects of the electoral process and demonstrated high levels of professionalism, competence and understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
On polling stations and election materials, the team noted that most of the polling stations were located in public places, and that the commission had conveniently placed signposts to direct voters to these polling stations.
Election materials were adequate in most of the polling stations visited and were deployed well in advance. However, a few incidents of inadequate voting material at some polling stations were observed.
The mission also noted the special measures taken by the IEC to facilitate and assist special groups, including the elderly and people with disabilities, and was particularly impressed with the participation of women and youth in the elections, as well as with the use of technology.
As the electoral process is yet to be concluded, the mission called on all stakeholders to continue to uphold peace and harmony across the country and await the final announcement of results. The IEC is due to declare the final results at 6pm on Saturday.
Kufuor congratulated South Africa, saying the mission had taken lessons. “We commend the IEC and the people … They have shown commitment in their own processes … South Africa has set the bar high for other countries who have upcoming elections.”