6 May 2014
South Africa has welcomed various international observer missions that have arrived in the country ahead of Wednesday’s national and provincial elections.
The international election observers are spread across all nine provinces to assess the conduct of the South African electoral process and monitor compliance with international standards.
“The practice of foreign countries and international organisations monitoring elections is accepted as one of the ways in which the international community can monitor and promote compliance with democratic values, principles and practices,” International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said in a statement on Tuesday.
According Monyela, the missions include those dispatched by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the Commonwealth.
The United Nations (UN) has also been invited to send an election observer mission, while ambassadors and high commissioners have been invited by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to visit polling stations throughout the country.
Monyela said this was not necessarily standard international practice.
“It’s not all countries that extend this courtesy to the diplomatic corps … And we do this even for countries that don’t extend the same courtesy to us during their own elections.”
The government has urged all South Africans, especially young and first-time voters, to exercise their democratic right to vote. Young people comprise a large proportion of South Africa’s population, and “the future should be forged by them”, the government said on Tuesday.