Japan sponsors an IEC voter education campaign

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pretoria - The Government of Japan, through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) programme, has extended R3.38 million to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to support its voter education campaigns.

Japan has been providing funds for the IEC's voter education campaigns since the first democratic elections in 1994.

Briefing reporters after receiving the grant from Japanese Ambassador, Toshiro Ozawa on Tuesday, IEC Chairperson Dr Brigalia Bam said they would use the funding to produce comic booklets.

"The grant will enable us to produce comic booklets to promote voter education throughout the country," Dr Bam said.

The booklets will significantly boost the IEC's outreach programmes especially the civic and voter education, a flagship programme which enabled the commission to reach millions of voters since the start of the registration campaigns for the 22 April 2009 elections.

The material will be translated into all South African official languages as well as in Braille for the visually impaired. A total of three million copies will be distributed to all the IEC's provincial offices.

Dr Bam said she was grateful to the government and people of Japan for their support which was an indicatation that Japan embraced democracy. South Africa holds electoral democracy in an equally high esteem, Dr Bam added.

Mr Ozawa said the Japanese government was proud to join with the IEC in its efforts to better educate potential voters in the country. "We are delighted by your decision to publish the educational material in a comic booklet form. Comics are an effective means of communication," he said.

He said Japan believed that strengthening democracy in the country continued to be a key element for ensuring peace and prosperity for all South Africans.

Mr Ozawa said the comic booklet project was one of the projects funded by the Japanese GGP programme.

The GGP, he said, was first introduced to South Africa in 1989 and about 300 projects have benefited from the grant so far.

He said the GGP aims to address the basic and immediate needs of disadvantaged communities through non-governmental organisation, community based organisations, schools, hospitals and exceptional urgent needs like the IEC voter education.

"We believe that through the successful implementation of the project, the IEC will succeed in strengthening and empowering voters.

"We will continue to support the IEC and we believe that the elections will be held in a free and fair manner, and that all political parties would accept the results of the elections," he said.