Monday, September 28, 2020

SADC Adapts to Emerging Threats

29 SEP, 2020 - 00:09 

Herald Reporter

THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states are crafting a draft policy guideline document on election observation during public health emergencies such as Covid-19 pandemic.

SADC is developing guidelines for observation of elections in the region under public health emergencies, including conditions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected the socio-economic and political spheres of the entire globe.

The SADC Guidelines for Election Observation Under public health emergencies will address the potential risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus and other diseases during elections, by providing elaborate mitigation measures and steps on how to manage and observe elections amidst pandemics with relative safety.

The draft guidelines were considered by the Ministerial Committee (MCO) of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation during its extraordinary virtual meeting held on 15th September 2020.

The guidelines were drafted as per the decision of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) meeting held on 26 June 2020, which was chaired by Zimbabwe, and which directed the secretariat to draft the guidelines considering the realities of Covid-19 and the impact on the holding of elections and election observation.

In an interview yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Dr Sibusiso Moyo said SADC held an Extraordinary Committee of the Organ meeting on 15 September 2020 to consider draft guidelines on Election Observation during public health emergencies.

“The Extraordinary MCO agreed on the need for further consultations by member States on the draft guidelines and a consideration of the final document by the MCO to be held in June 2021,” said Minister Moyo.

According to statement posted on SADC website, the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said that the impacts of the pandemic in the socio-economic and political spheres of society has created conditions that require innovative ways to sustain the region’s overall objective of fostering peace and security, and the consolidation of democracy.

Dr Tax said it was important for the SADC region to consider various risks associated with every stage of the electoral cycle, in coming up with measures to safeguard the health security of citizens during elections and promote conducive environments for democratic free and fair elections to occur.

Botswana’s Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr. Lemogang Kwape who is chairperson of the MCO highlighted that the Guidelines were critical in providing modalities for safeguarding the health of SEOMs deployed to Member States holding elections and in ensuring that the integrity of national elections was upheld despite the impact of COVID-19 and other pandemics that may emerge in future.

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