SADC pleased with IEC's preparedness

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pretoria - Most African democracies could learn from South Africa's handling of the elections and preparations thereof, says the Southern African Development Community Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM).

Speaking to BuaNews on Tuesday, Swaziland's Agriculture Minister and Head of SEOM, Clement Dlamini, said while South Africans only go to the polls on Wednesday, the SEOM 90-member team had been impressed with the work that has been done by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) so far.

"Our duty is to observe and not monitor, and so far we have been impressed by what we have seen and I think many countries can learn a lot from what is happening here," Mr Dlamini said while on a tour of the Results Operation Centre (ROC) with the rest of his team.

More than 300 observers have been deployed across the provinces, ahead of Wednesday's poll. Their task is to ensure the implementation of SADC guidelines on free and fair elections while enhancing peace, security and political stability to the people of South Africa.

The team has been involved in elections throughout Southern Africa and will also be stationed in polls due to be held in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Namibia.

Mr Dlamini said the team has already met with at least seven of the political parties contesting the elections and based on their interaction "it was clear that all the parties are happy with the way things are going so far".

"The level of preparedness has always been different from country to country but we can see South Africa is prepared," he said.

The level of political tolerance has proved the country's democracy had matured, added Mr Dlamini.

He conceded that the team cannot make any conclusive statements until the elections have been declared free and fair by all the stakeholders involved, including the IEC.

Director of SADC's organ on Politics, Defence and Security, Tanki Mothae said the SEOM and other international observers will convene a preliminary briefing on Friday on their impressions of the election process.