IFES Election Assessment Report, South Africa Election Institution Report, October 23 1998 (appendices missing)

Publication Date: 
22 Oct 1998

Publication Type:



This report shall serve as an account of a pre-election assessment conducted by the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) in South Africa from August 24 through September 11, 1998. IFES was requested by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to provide guidance on current election preparations, and to assist the IEC in identifying services which could be provided by the international community. Funding for this assessment has been provided through the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Support (CEPPS) from the US Agency for International Development.

Over the three week time period, two members of the IFES team met with members of the IEC, its staff in Pretoria, and traveled to five provinces to discuss the status of election preparations with local and provincial-level election officers. In addition, the IEC generously made a number of documents available to the IFES team, including copies of relevant legislation, business plans, and financial support information. This report is based on the team's interviews, and their review of IEC documents and analysis of relevant South African media reports performed from August 24- September 11. A draft of this report was presented to the IEC and USAID on September 12, 1998. IFES received comments from the IEC on October 5, which have been addressed in this final report. Finally, the report has been updated in selected areas to reflect recent events.

At the time of the team's arrival, the processes of electoral district delimitation and voter registration site identification were underway. Many of this report's recommendations address these activities, and offer suggestions for future efforts in these areas.

Following the Introduction (Chapter II), Chapter III reviews the constitutional, legal and regulatory framework of the IEC for the 1999 elections. In addition, the chapter provides an overview of the structure, functions and current operation levels of the Commission and its staff, and the IFES team's observations in Pretoria and five provinces over three weeks. South Africa's Constitution establishes the Independent Electoral Commission, charging it with the technical implementation of the voter registration and election processes. More broadly, the Constitution mandates the IEC as an agent of the institutionalization of a democratic culture in South Africa.

Today, the Commission's focus is on the 1999 elections. South Africa's Electoral Act, which frames the responsibilities of the IEC in organizing and managing elections, must be supported by cogent, publicly disseminated regulations generated by the Commission. Once voter registration and national, provincial and local planning for the 1999 election are completed, the Commission will be better positioned to seriously consider its post-1999 existence.

Chapter IV identifies guidelines for avoiding potential pitfalls in the activities of delimitation and voter registration. The integration of a geographic information system (GIS) in the establishment of electoral areas and registration sites is unique among African countries.

Chapter V addresses Election Day logistics and operations, staff training, and equipment issues. The recruitment and training of 60,000 persons to staff 14,500 registration and polling stations is an endeavor for which the IEC has begun to prepare. The IFES team offers recommendations in staffing and logistics, as well as cost-saving measures, for the IEC's consideration.

Chapter VI describes the IFES team's observations and recommendations in the area of voter and civic education, and democracy development as well as current issues that South Africa's political parties are confronting. As a relatively new component of the IEC, successful initiatives in areas call for careful planning and proactive coordination among government representatives, political parties, national and international nongovernmental organizations and other engaged national and international entities.

Chapter VII provides an overview of international assistance which the IEC may receive throughout the preparation and election periods, with guidelines for seeking technical support abroad. Finally, Chapter VIII summarizes the recommendations provided at the conclusion of each chapter.


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