By Bahle Gama
The Southern African Developing Community (SADC) is urging registered voters in the country to exercise their civic and political rights by voting during the Secondary Elections on September 29. This was said by SADC Executive Secretary representative Terry Rose who was speaking during the launch of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) at Royal Villas on Friday.
He encouraged all stakeholders to ensure that the elections are conducted in a peaceful, free, fair, transparent, and credible. “We look forward to an electoral process that adheres to democratic values and principles envisioned in the SADC Treaty, the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” Rose said.
He said that the consolidation of democracy in the region can be enhanced if all Member States focus on implementing the various recommendations of the SEOMs where such recommendations seek to close gaps and address specific challenges in the electoral systems of our Member States.
According to the representative, the SEOM consists of 47 personnel from eight SADC member states.
These are the Republics of Zambia, Angola, of Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. He disclosed that the SEOM has been in the country since September 14 to observe the secondary elections set to elect members of the House of Assembly. He said the SEOM noted that the elections are governed by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini and a comprehensive set of relevant laws, which include the Elections and Boundaries Commission Act, Voter Registration Act, and the Elections Act.
“It is in line with these national legal instruments that the SADC Electoral Observation Mission will assess the conduct of the elections against a set of central principles stipulated in the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” Rose said. Rose further stated that stakeholders needed to understand that the SEOM’s mandate is to determine the adherence of member states holding elections to the relevant provisions of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
To fulfil its mandate, the SEOM assesses and evaluates whether the legal and constitutional framework guarantees freedom of expression, assembly, association, and human rights, the structure and model of the electoral system, the Electoral Management Body (EMB), the Electoral Act and regulations and the nature of civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights.
It also assesses the establishment, process of appointment, and retention of members of EMBs; in addition to assessing the composition, status, independence, impartiality, professionalism, and preparedness of the EMB for the election, as well as ensuring that the delimitation of election boundaries was done in a manner acceptable to stakeholders and whether the factors that prompted delimitation were following the laws of the land.