SADC Launches Malawi Observer Mission

Elections are not a panacea for democracy but rather an important indicator of political maturity, says Minister of Foreign Affairs Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah. She made the statement last weekend in Malawi when launching the SADC Electoral Observer Mission to the tripartite elections in that country slated for next week Tuesday.

“In themselves elections are not a panacea for democracy. But the culture of holding regular, peaceful, transparent, free and fair elections is one of the important indicators of political maturity. We can all agree that this has been the case with the Republic of Malawi since the aent of multiparty-democracy in the country more than 20 years ago,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah who was representing President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who is the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and Head of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission.

Twelve candidates are contesting the watershed elections under the supervision of the Malawi Electoral Commission, which will see the people of Malawi voting for their local government, members of parliament and president for the first time in a single election. Seventeen parties are fielding candidates for the 193-seat National Assembly.

The presence of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM) and many observers from SADC member states in Malawi is concrete proof of SADC commitment to the ideals of democracy, the values of good governance and the rule of law, stated Nandi-Ndaitwah.

“The mission is aware that tripartite elections will be held for the first time. The election is therefore of a larger magnitude and complexity,” she said.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said the observer mission would encourage all political and electoral stakeholders to observe the political processes with tolerance and ensure peaceful, transparent, free, fair and credible elections.

“The SEOM is in this country in accordance with the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, which requires member states to cooperate on the political processes for the purpose of promoting common political and democratic values. The consolidation of democracy is central to those political values,” she said.

In fulfilling its mandate the observer mission will be guided by the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections. The mission’s mandate will be to assess the political and electoral environment such as political and civil rights, voter education, registration of voters, compilation of the voters’ roll, party and candidate campaigns, access to media coverage as well as the state of preparedness of the Malawi Electoral Commission.

Observer teams will be deployed in all three regions in Malawi.

“In its observation and analysis of the electoral process, the mission will seek to establish adherence to the electoral process of SADC and international electoral norms and protocols,” she stated in her statement.

She said SADC observers are expected to scrupulously observe and respect the laws of Malawi as well as the SADC code of conduct.

Source : New Era