By Ikechukwu Eze, Media adviser to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan
The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) has announced the arrival in South Africa of its election observation mission (EOM) led by former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to observe the country’s national and provincial elections.
A statement issued by the South African-based EISA ahead of the May 8 elections quoted former President Jonathan of stating that the polls would provide another opportunity for South Africans to exercise their voting right and deepen the roots of the nation’s democracy.
In the arrival statement Jonathan said: “It is a great pleasure for me to lead the EISA election observation mission to the 2019 national and provincial elections in South Africa. These elections which come in the 25th year of South Africa’s democratic journey are of great importance as they provide another opportunity for South Africans to exercise their right to vote and thus support the country’s democratic consolidation.
“The EISA EOM seeks to contribute to the integrity of the electoral process through its findings and recommendations.”
The statement added that the Jonathan-led observer mission which has Mr. Denis Kadima, EISA’s Executive Director, as the deputy mission leader is comprised of 37 international observers drawn from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Election Management Bodies (EMBs), and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) from 16 African countries. It is the fifth EOM to be deployed by EISA in South Africa since the 1999 elections.
It said further: “EISA observers will be deployed in 18 teams to all the nine provinces of South Africa to observe the last days of the electoral campaigns, pre-polling activities, special voting, and Election Day and post-polling activities. On 10 May 2019, the EISA EOM will issue a statement on its preliminary findings and recommendations on the electoral process.”
The EISA EOM is in South Africa at the invitation of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa, to conduct an independent assessment of the electoral process and contribute to its integrity through its findings and recommendations.
“These elections are the sixth to be conducted since the end of Apartheid and the adoption of the 1996 Constitution. They coincide with the 25th anniversary since the country held its first elections by direct universal suffrage, marking a critical milestone in the country’s democratic journey. A peaceful and successful election will therefore further cement the democratic gains made by the country over the past generation. EISA is pleased to be part of this historic moment in South Africa.”
This is the second time that former President Jonathan would be leading EISA EOM, having led a similar mission to Sierra Leone’s Presidential election last year. He had previously led other international election observer missions to many countries including Tanzania, Zambia and Liberia. Since leaving office in 2015, Dr. Jonathan has been lending his support to the efforts to consolidate democracy in Africa.