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Observers at voting stations to police free and fair elections at Mbombela

The approved observers are issued certificates which allow them to observe and are said to be distinguished by their ID cards and jackets which they must wear at all times.

South Africans will be casting their votes on Wednesday May 29, and as the date draws near, various preparations are made, including the briefing of observers.

The Mpumalanga Observers will start with their briefing this Wednesday and end it on Thursday.

According to www.elections.org.za, observers, both domestic and international, play a crucial role in ensuring that the elections are transparent, free and fair, and that the outcome is accepted by voters, political parties and candidates.

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The Mpumalanga IEC’s communication and stakeholder liaison, Thanduxolo Chembeni, said Section 84 of the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 outlines the process of accreditation of observers.

“International observers are those coming from outside South Africa, like the SADC, AU and EU. The domestic observers are those from within South Africa, mostly non-profit organisations. They apply to the Commission of Accreditation to observe the elections in South Africa, which applications closed on Wednesday May 1. There is a code of conduct for accredited observers (Schedule B of Regulations on the Accreditation of Observers), which states they should always remain non-partisan and neutral. They observe the election impartially and independently of any registered party or candidate contesting the elections,” Chembeni said.

A voting station.

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He said the approved observers are issued certificates allowing them to observe. At voting stations, observers can be distinguished by the ID cards and jackets they must wear at all times.

Chembeni said they will be moving from one station to another.

“We do not interfere with their work. They introduce themselves to the preceding officer and then continue to do what they came for.”

Chembeni said the observers must compile a comprehensive report about how the elections had proceeded.

This report will assist the commission to improve on certain aspects, as raised by these reports.

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