Opposition hails new Sadc election rules

Source: Opposition hails new Sadc election rules – DailyNews Live

Blessings Mashaya      25 February 2017

HARARE – Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) will
in June at their annual summit adopt a far-reaching set of guidelines for
elections.

These include elements demanded by the Zimbabwe opposition, which will
contest crucial general elections next year, such as equal access for all
political parties to the State media and impartiality of electoral
institutions.

Yesterday, Obert Gutu, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
welcomed the guidelines, but was worried that they do not clearly
stipulate the enforcement mechanism.

“It is a welcome development that most Sadc member states have really made
tremendous progress in ensuring that elections in their countries are held
in accordance with the relevant protocols and procedures that are geared
towards holding free and fair elections that can easily pass the test of
legitimacy.

“Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is one of the few countries within Sadc where
elections are almost always marred by gross irregularities … We are now
a laughing stock thanks to decades of Zanu PF misrule, mismanagement of
the economy, gross human rights abuses and rampant corruption.”

The Sadc magazine – Southern Africa Today (SAT) – addressed the
enforcement issue, saying it would fall to Sadc’s Organ on Politics,
Defence and Security to engage a member state which was constantly in
violation of the rules.

“The Sadc Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) is overseeing the development
of the Sadc reference manual for election observers, which is intended to
serve as a tool to assist observers when deployed in the field during Sadc
Election Observation Mission (SEOMs),” it said.

The draft manual was subjected to a review and validation process during a
consultative workshop organised by SEAC in December in South Africa,
attended by representatives of Sadc member States.

SEAC, which was established in April 2011,  to advise Sadc on electoral
matters and issues pertaining democracy and good governance, oversaw the
review of the principles governing democratic elections in Sadc.

The revised guidelines were revised in July 2015 after first being adopted
in August 2004 at the summit of Sadc heads of State and government in
Mauritius.

This comes as Zimbabwe opposition parties under National Electoral Reform
Agenda (Nera) have been holding demonstrations around the country to press
for much-needed electoral reforms.

“The guidelines aim to enhance the transparency and credibility of
elections as well as ensuring the acceptance of election result by all
contesting parties,” the Sadc manual said.

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