SADC Electoral Observer Mission to Nam launched

WINDHOEK; The Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM) to Namibia’s general elections slated for 28 November this year, was unveiled in the capital on Monday.

Launching the observer mission, the head of the SEOM, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the SEOM is in Namibia to witness the election, and will be deployed to all regions of the country.

The deployment of the SEOM is in part to facilitate the learning and development of regional democratic norms and values as well as best-practices.

She noted that only 72 of the 90 observers are currently in Namibia, and the registration of these observers will commence at the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) on Tuesday.

The SEOM has taken note of the recently-approved Constitutional amendments and the new Electoral Act, which will govern the elections.

The 2014 Presidential and National Assembly elections will take place on 28 November.

Elections for sea-going personnel and those at foreign missions will be conducted on 14 November.

Nkoana-Mashabane said at this stage, the mission seeks to encourage stakeholders to the election to ensure that the electoral process serves the people of Namibia, with provisions responding to the facilitation of fundamental human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Namibian constitution.

The SEOM to Namibia was preceded by an assessment mission by the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC), as is practice.

The council’s support provides valuable information which will guide SEOM in its work, going forward.

She further informed the media at the launch that as espoused in the SADC principles and guidelines, the SADC mission will broadly gauge the elections against criteria to assess the full participation of citizens in the political process, regular intervals for elections as provided for by the Constitution, and equal opportunity for all political parties to access State media.

The SEOM will also assess the independence of the judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions, including the acceptance and respect of the election results by political parties once the results are proclaimed free and fair by the competent national electoral authorities, in accordance with the law of the land.

Nkoana-Mashabane furthermore explained that as part of its Terms of Reference, the SEOM’s scope of observation will be informed by guidelines which guarantee a conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections.

These guidelines include the constitutional and legal guarantees of the freedom and rights of the citizens, the voter registration process, existence of an updated and accessible voters’ roll, the location of polling stations in neutral places and the timeous announcement of the election date.

She said notwithstanding the fact that elections are a competitive activity, SADC encourages the people of Namibia and the political and electoral stakeholders to exercise political tolerance.

“I can confirm the SADC team’s commitment to ensure that the mission is up to the task and observes adherence to the legal framework of Namibia, as well as the election principles and guidelines of SADC,” she stressed.