The SA Institute of Business Accountants (Saiba) is the latest professional body to obtain accredited observer status for the upcoming 8 May election. A total of 75 Saiba members have so far volunteered to perform observer duties on behalf of Saiba at polling stations around the country.
“This is the first time that Saiba has been involved in the election process, and so far 75 of our members have volunteered their services as observers on election day,” says Saiba CEO Nicolaas van Wyk. “We intend to use this as a learning experience for ourselves as an organisation and for our members, so that we can expand our involvement in future elections.”
Van Wyk says Saiba members will be tasked with monitoring the election’s accessibility for disabled people. “Disabled people are part of the largely unseen population of South Africa and we want to make sure that their voices and their votes are properly recorded on election day.
“As accountants, we are skilled at providing assurance on financial reports and other matters so it makes sense for us to apply our skills to the election process.”
Saiba members will also use their experiences as election observers to compile a post-election report which can then be supplied to the IEC and government. The report will explain whether the election polling stations provided sufficient access for the disabled, and what reforms are needed to further improve accessibility going forward.
Saiba member and election project leader Ogbonnia Okojoseph says the window for Saiba members to volunteer their services is now closed. “There are strict rules governing the conduct of election observers, and how they must behave as people are going through the voting process.”
Okojoseph is accredited by the IEC as an observer trainer, and is now preparing to take Saiba volunteers through what is expected of them on election day. Saiba observers will be kitted out with T-shirts so that they can be easily identified by voters at the various polling stations around the country. Once the voting is complete, the hard work of counting the votes commences. In most cases, this will take place in the polling stations themselves, with seating re-arranged for the counting process. This is where local and international observers will be expected to keep an eye on the transparency and accuracy of the counting process.
Saiba election observers will receive:
- A certificate from Saiba to promote their volunteer work to their clients.;
- A new skill to include on their CVs;
- Recognition as a volunteer in the final election report, and
- A Saiba-branded observer T-shirt.
For more information, please contact project leader Ogbonnia Okojoseph at 0628221696.