WANEP to observe South African election
Monday, April 20, 2009
Thousands of election observers from different parts of the world are currently in the Rainbow Nation of South Africa to observe the 5th general election, considered the most crucial and important since 1994.
The role of these observers is crucial in that it will ensure, to a great extent, that the rules are respected and that there is fair play. Among these thousands of men and women are members of the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), comprising members from the various national networks within the sub-region which form the organization.
Their participation comes within the framework of the partnership between the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) and the Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa (NPI). NIP, together with ACCORD and WANEP, have come together to form the African Alliance for Peace (AFAP). This pan-African observer mission aims at observing and recording levels of political intolerance and violence in the province of KwaZulu-Natal over the electioneering period (18-24 April).
The WANEP mission is being led by its executive director, Emmanuel Bombande, and observers were drawn from the national networks across West Africa. Pamela Cole, National Network Coordinator of WANEP Gambia, is also taking part. Cole, like other Network members, had undergone a series of trainings on election observation programs and has observed elections in a number of countries on the continent. WANEP Gambia spearheaded the creation of the first ever civil society coalition on elections, comprising more than 20 civil society organizations in The Gambia, in 2006, which it coordinated with support from partners such as the UNDP Gambia office and the American Embassy in Banjul.
This ensured provision of standard training for over 120 domestic election observers and 60 election officials across the country. This coalition monitored and observed the 2006 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections in The Gambia as well as the 2007 presidential elections in neighbouring Senegal.
WANEP Gambia envisages that the participation of its member in the person of Pamela Cole, in this major election, will provide it immense experience which will be useful in strengthening the capacity of domestic observers and the quality of future trainings.
WANEP, based in Accra, Ghana, is a sub-regional non-profit organization whose mandate is to enable and facilitate the development of mechanisms for cooperation among civil society peace building practitioners and other organizations in the region as a means of promoting responses to violent conflicts.
WANEP also aims at providing a structure through which these practitioners and institutions will regularly exchange experiences and information on issues concerning peace building, conflict prevention and transformation, social, religious and political reconciliation, as well as promote West Africa's socio-cultural values as resources for peace building.
WANEP has a network with over 450 member organisations. It has a consultative status with the United Nations, and it is the West Africa regional initiator for the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflicts. The man widely believed to become president of South Africa, the African National Congress's Jacob Zuma, entered the campaign as corruption allegations levied against him were being dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority, earlier this month.
Jacob Zuma's falling out with the former president, Thabo Mbeki, is believed by many as being responsible for the ousting of the latter by the party and the creation of a rival one, the Congress of the People (COPE), which is expected to pose a stiff challenge to ANC. At the economic front, South Africa faces uncertainties due to the global financial crisis and credit crunch, while crime levels are still considered among the highest in the world. It is against this backdrop that these elections are being considered the most important so far.
Author: by Musa Ndow