Publication | Report/Paper

South Africa: Technical Assistance Report

Executive Summary

South African citizens officially signaled the beginning of post-apartheid South Africa with the conduct of national and provincial elections between April 26th and 28th, 1994. At the request of the South African Independent Electoral Commission, and with the financial support of USAID South Africa, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) provided technical assistance to the administrators of these elections. By early April, IFES had assembled a thirteen-member team of specialists in a variety of fields. The mission, although organized and sent into the field late in the process, was effective in providing much-needed advice and oversight to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

The IFES consultants were assigned to both the IEC's administration and monitoring directorates. Through their presence in almost all areas of the IEC, the team served as an informal information network, successfully opening lines of communication where they previously did not exist. The sheer bulk of work facing the IEC, combined with the relative inexperience of many IEC employees, hampered regular communication between directorates and divisions. As a result, the first IFES team members arrived in Johannesburg in mid-March to discover a high level of confusion and wasted effort. Pressurizing this pre-electoral environment was the pervasive fear of political violence and massive civil unrest. Some IEC divisions were more organized than others. These groups assumed control of the operations of the elections mid-way through the voting period.

The world is aware of the outcome of those confusing but joyous voting days. Voters turned out in vast numbers, and in the face of long lines, poor logistical support, and heat and rain, waited patiently--and peacefully--to cast their ballots. Procedurally, the election did have its shortcomings. However, the effort and dedication exhibited by the voters and by most of the South Africans working for the IEC personified the people's desire for a change in government and for a greater role in that government.

This report presents an overview of IFES' activities throughout the elections. Each team member prepared an activity report at the end of his or her contract. Those reports included suggestions for future elections. The consultants' submissions are summarized in this document. The appendices include technical election information, election results, and each of the consultant's reports in its entirety.

It is hoped that this report, along with those submitted by the other international and domestic groups who were present during the electoral period, and those produced by the IEC, will serve as an institutional memory of the elections. This background will be an invaluable road map for the preparation of future South African elections. IFES is honored to have had the opportunity to participate in the preparation and implementation of this pivotal event. The Foundation is eager to build on its new relationship with South Africa through providing assistance with the evaluation of the April 1994 elections and with the preparation of the upcoming local government elections.  


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