Pretoria, South Africa: On 10th May 2019, the Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2019 National and Provincial Elections in the Republic of South Africa, Honourable Joseph Malanji, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia, released the Mission's Preliminary Statement at a media event held at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria, South Africa, following the National and Provincial Elections which were held on 8th May 2019.
In the Preliminary Statement, the SADC Observation Mission observed that the 2019 National and Provincial Elections in South Africa were conducted in an orderly and professional manner and within the requirements of the legal framework of the Republic of South Africa and further, in accordance with the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2015).
The SEOM Head of Mission commended the Government, the National Electoral Commission (IEC) and the People of South Africa for conducting themselves in an exemplary manner during the election period. The SEOM Head of Mission also commended the public and private media for providing equitable coverage to all political parties during the election process.
The SEOM Preliminary Statement observed a number of good practices worth sustaining, which include the fact that the political and security environment before, during, and immediately after polling day was generally peaceful and the efficient management of the elections by the IEC, despite a few challenges.
In the Preliminary Statement, SEOM makes a number of recommendations for the improvement of the electoral process in the Republic of South Africa, which include the need to urgently assess the possible causes of voter apathy amongst young South Africans, with a view to designing and implementing voter and civic education programmes to address it.
The statement also called for the introduction of modalities to increase the representation of women as candidates in political parties and in elected offices; and for the government to consider amending the Municipal Elections Act to ensure that Municipal by-elections do not take place during the National and Provincial Elections. The Head of Mission also recommended the operationalization of the law on Political Party Funding which, amongst others, will regulate private funding of Political Parties.
The SEOM to the 2019 South Africa National and Provincial Elections was composed of observers from ten (10) SADC Member States namely; Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A total of 50 observers were deployed who covered 9 Provinces of South Africa.
SADC presented the SEOM Preliminary Statement alongside the Electoral Observation Missions of the African Union (AU) and SADC Electoral Commission Forum, each of which also presented its own independent statement.
The event was attended by His Excellency, Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Head of the African Union Electoral Observation Mission to the Republic of South Africa; Alternate Head of SEOM, Honourable Kabinga Pande, former Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Zambia, His Lordship, Judge Esau Chulu, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of the Republic of Zambia and Head of the SADC Electoral Commissions Forum Election Observation Mission to the Republic of South Africa and SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax.
Also in attendance were representatives from IEC, SADC Ambassadors and High Commissioners accredited to the Republic of South Africa, representatives of the international observation missions, the diplomatic missions in South Africa, the United Nations, political parties, civil society organisations, the media and other electoral stakeholders.
The SEOM's final report of the 2019 National and Provincial Elections in South Africa will be completed and issued within 30 days after the close of the poll in accordance with the provisions of the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2015).