Needs assessment mission
As part of the inception phase of this project, EISA carried out a NAM in South Africa with the aim of gathering background information and assessing the electoral environment ahead of the 2014 general elections. The mission also focused on mapping out existing initiatives and uncovered gaps in addressing electoral related violence and related conflict. This assessment was done through telephonic conversations, questionnaires and desk top research. No field visits were undertaken as such, but EISA's reach and wide network in the country allowed the NAM to gather all data necessary from the premises of their head office in Johannesburg.
It is important to mention that EISA facilitated the establishment of the ESN-SA and was the secretariat of the ESN-SA up till 2009 when the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) became the secretariat. The secretariat later moved to the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), which is the current secretariat. EISA therefore played an active role in fund raising and policy direction of the Network. Whilst EISA is not a registered member of the Network, it works closely with its member organisations in its work within and beyond the SADC region, for instance, including members of the ESN-SA in EISA election observation missions and EISA conferences and symposia. Based on the interactions with these CSOs, the team made the following key findings.
The South African Catholic Bishops Council (SACBC) is the ESN-SA member organisation in South Africa. In terms of geographic coverage, the SACBC has a national presence in all the nine provinces of South Africa, which makes it an ideal focal point. However, it is worth mentioning that the Kwazulu Natal Regional Churches Council (KRCC) is currently in the administrative phase of applying to be the second focal point in South Africa.
SACBC along with many other CSOs in South Africa have been actively involved in election related activities over the past two electoral cycles. Most of these CSOS are currently collaborating with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to engage in the 2014 electoral process. South Africa national and provincial elections are scheduled for April 2014. Although CSOs in South Africa have been actively involved in the electoral processes in the country, it is important to find the gaps where skills can be transferred through the implementation of this project.
The occurrence of violence in South African elections has reduced considerably since 1994 when the first democratic elections were held. There is a strong electoral conflict management mechanism in existence in South Africa, initiated in 1999 by the IEC in partnership with the EISA. Civil society groups have played a vital role within this mechanism. In KZN through the KZNCC, mediators continued to contribute to community conflict issues, similarly in the Western Cape. EISA especially has played a pivotal role in this process over the years.
ERV in South Africa remains a passive phenomenon. In the past three electoral cycles, incidents of ERV remain very low. Historically, the province of Kwazulu Natal has been clouded with high political tension during electoral processes. The introduction of initiatives to combat elections related violence and conflict such as the Conflict Management Panels (An EISA/IEC partnership) and Political Liaison Committee (PLC) has significantly contributed to the low number of ERV in South Africa. Specifically the PLCs have played a critical role in ensuring that political conflicts are dealt within the internal party structures. The introductions of such initiatives have been successful in preventing the occurrence of political and electoral conflict and violence. South Africa has held peaceful elections since gaining its independence in 1994.
Please click on the title of the training for more information:
- Participation of the In-Country Researcher for South Africa to the First Observatory meeting and LEAD Curriculum development, 12-18 December 2015, Gaborone