More than 300 intl observers to oversee electoral processes

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pretoria - Registered voters going to the polls on Wednesday can take comfort in the fact that more than 300 international observers will be overseeing the electoral process to ensure its free and fair.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the recommendations made by the 333 international observers will also be taken into consideration.

"We want to assure that any recommendations you make to us for improving the way we do things will be taken into consideration," Chairperson of the IEC Brigalia Bam told a delegation of international observers on Friday.

She was speaking at a briefing of international observers ahead of South Africa's fourth democratic elections next Wednesday.

Sixteen observer teams including representatives from the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary FORUM, the Senegal People Development Institute and the SADC Electoral Forum will be overseeing the elections.

The chairperson urged the observers to share their country's remedies for dealing with political interference during the elections.

"In some areas there is a lot of political intolerance, you can share the methods used in your own country to mediate," said Ms Bam, adding that more police officers will be deployed to "hotspots" in the country.

Observer of the African Union in the United Republic of Tanzania Omar Mussa told BuaNews that there should be no reason why South Africa cannot conduct free and fair elections.

Mr Mussa, who arrived in South Africa on Tuesday, will be based in Bloemfontein until he leaves the country on 25 April.

"I believe that South Africa is a bit more advanced. There should be no reason why the elections should not be free and fair," said Mr Mussa, who has been an observer for four years.

Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs said it would be opened for extended hours on Election Day to allow people to collect their Identity Documents for the purpose of voting.

"Home Affairs offices across the country will be open from 7am to 9pm on Wednesday," the department said.