The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, on 25th September 2020 paid a courtesy call on the Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO), Hon. Dr Lemogang Kwape, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana, where they discussed, among others, the peace and security situation in the SADC region, including preparations for the upcoming elections in Seychelles and United Republic of Tanzania.
H.E Dr Tax informed the Chairperson of the MCO that the Republic of Seychelles and the United Republic of Tanzania will hold elections on 22nd and 28th October, 2020 respectively and that, due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, SADC will consult and follow-up the electoral processes virtually.
The two underscored the value of SADC’s election observation as an important element in strengthening democracy and good governance and emphasised the need to safeguard the health and safety of observers, citizens and stakeholders while undertaking election observation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The elections in Seychelles and United Republic of Tanzania come at a time when SADC is developing Guidelines for Election Observation Under Public Health Emergencies which willaddress the potential risk of spreading COVID-19 and other such diseases during elections, by providing elaborate mitigation measures and steps on how to manage and observe elections during pandemics.
On the latest socio-economic, political and security developments in the region, the SADC Executive Secretary and MCO Chairperson agreed to take a pragmatic approach to fully understand the root causes and propose solutions to the region’s challenges so as to maintain the region’s long record of peace, stability and security.
Hon. Dr Kwape indicated that, in line with the provisions of the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, will constitute the SADC Electoral Observation Missions to Seychelles and United Republic of Tanzania that will be conducted virtually due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
During the meeting, the Executive Secretary of SADC was accompanied by the Director of the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Affairs at the SADC Secretariat, Mr Jorge Cardoso, and other officers, while the MCO Chairperson was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Gaeimelwe Goitsemang, and senior officials in the Ministry.
The SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ is a structure of the Organ of SADC, established under Article 10A of the SADC Treaty and Article 3 of the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation with the responsibility to coordinate the work of the Organ and its structures in promoting peace and security in the region.