24 April 2014: For immediate release
The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has set up an observer team of 275 attorneys and
candidate attorneys to observer the National Elections on 7 May 2014. ‘They will serve as the
eyes and ears of our citizens,’ say LSSA Co-Chairpersons Max Boqwana and Ettienne Barnard.
They add: ‘When South Africa was a nascent democracy in 1994, we had the eyes of the world
on us. In that first historic election and in the following elections, many international and regional
bodies and NGOs sent observers. As we mature in our democracy, the perception has developed
that our electoral process is free, fair and transparent. We believe that to be so. But as the
interest of foreign observers and monitor has waned and turned to other jurisdictions, the onus
increases on us to ensure that our elections and electoral processes remain sound and beyond
question. For that reason the LSSA’s attorneys and candidate attorneys have volunteered their
time to serve as observers on election day.’
The LSSA is placing highly trained observers in voting stations and counting stations across the
country, as well as ensuring the presence of independent lawyers in the elections results centre.
They will assess the electoral process with a particular emphasis on compliance with regulations,
laws, procedures and codes of conduct. They will also evaluate participation of our people and
their understanding of the process.
LSSA observers have attended a full-day training workshop where they have familiarised
themselves with the relevant aspects of the Constitution, the Electoral Act 73 of 1998, the
Electoral Commission Act 51 of 1996, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and
Governance adopted by the African Union in 2007, the SADC Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections as well as the role of and code of conduct for independent
observers. The trainings materials for the LSSA observers have been sponsored by LexisNexis.
Observers will submit reports and the LSSA will compile and present its observations to the
Electoral Commission and make these available to the public.
‘Through this observer mission we intend to provide support for our Electoral Commission by
supporting and strengthening the integrity of the elections process. We echo the IEC in saying
that credible elections are an expression of active citizenship and the free expression of the free
will of the people, which provides the basis for the authority and legitimacy of a sitting
government,’ Say Mr Boqwana and Mr Barnard.
The LSSA’s domestic observer mission will be complemented by an international foreign
observer mission by the SADC Lawyers Association, which is deploying an observer mission