’RSA Elections Crucial for SADC – Kapewasha

The upcoming elections in South Africa are crucial for the region because post-election problems in the neighbouring country could spell trouble for all Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states.

However, preparations are underway for peaceful elections, the Namibian High Commissioner to South Africa, Marten Kapewasha, said yesterday in a telephonic interview with New Era from Pretoria.

“The South African elections are crucial to the region because if they have problems the rest of SADC will be affected. But I can tell you that everything is peaceful so far and the electoral commission [Independent Electoral Commission] has assured us that everything is in place,” said Kapewasha who described the pre-poll environment as peaceful with political parties campaigning extensively to lure voters.

In Windhoek the South African High Commissioner to Namibia, Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini, said the Independent Electoral Commission has approved 361 applications of South Africans who wished to cast special votes at the high commission in Windhoek, while 10 were declined. Casting of special votes outside of South Africa in Namibia will take place on April 30 at the South African High Commission offices in Eros, Windhoek. Over 25 million South Africans have registered to vote on May 7.

“We have a lot of South Africans living in Namibia, but you find that some of them do not stay in Windhoek so it will be an effort to come and vote. But I hope those that have not registered to cast special votes will be voting at home [South Africa],” said Myakayaka-Manzini. South Africa’s elections coincide with South Africa’s 20th post-apartheid anniversary celebrations. Although South Africa is the youngest democracy in the region it is the most aanced country in Africa.

Kapewasha said a team from Namibia that will form part of the SADC observer team is already in South Africa.

“Our President [Hifikepunye Pohamba] has been invited by President Jacob Zuma to attend the independence celebrations,” he said.

Myakayaka-Manzini said this year’s elections would be important for South Africa because it will measure the country’s achievements and shortcomings. “Elections are the voices of the people, therefore it will tell whether the people want the current government to continue or whether they want a new government,” she said.

The number of small parties competing in these elections “is in itself a sign that multi-party democracy is maturing in South Africa”, said Myakayaka-Manzini.

Source : New Era