KZN proves a point for SA

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

With the ANC poised for a landslide election victory in KwaZulu-Natal, international observers officially declared the region's poll to be "free, fair and transparent".

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who led the African Alliance for Peace (AfAP) election monitoring mission, spent election-day in northern KwaZulu-Natal, where he witnessed IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi vote in Mahlabathini and Jacob Zuma in Nkandla.

He also visited polling stations in Nongoma.

Obasanjos said the generally high levels of political tolerance observed in the province were testimony to a maturing democracy.

"In our opinion, nothing that we observed substantially adversely affects the outcome and credibility of the election," he said.

He said while observers noted a few incidents of "minor political intolerance", they felt that those incidents were "neither systematic nor widespread" but "rather isolated and sporadic.

"We therefore believe that the process was sufficiently free, fair and transparent to reflect the will of the people of the province. Furthermore, we commend the IEC for a job well done despite minor logistical issues noted.

"We congratulate the people of South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal in particular," he said.

The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (Accord) led an African election violence observer mission.

Together with New Partners Initiative-Africa and the West Africa Network for Peace, Accord deployed 100 observers in the province under the banner of AFAP.

Political commentator Protas Madlala agreed with Obasanjo's sentiments, saying the outcome of the relatively incident-free polls sends was a "clear and heartening message to the African continent that we can hold free and fair elections".