Ezulwini, Eswatini: On 23 September 2018, the Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2018 General Elections in the Kingdom of Eswatini, Honourable Highvie Hamududu Special Advisor to the Presidency for the Republic of Zambia, released the Mission's Preliminary Statement, at a press event held at the Royal Swazi Spar Hotel, in Ezulwini, Eswatini, regarding the elections which were held on 21 September 2018.
The Head of the SEOM Mission applauded the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) of Eswatini for conducting the elections professionally, and presented the SEOM’s conclusion that the elections were conducted successfully, in a peaceful environment, in line with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini, and the guiding Legal Framework.
The SEOM Preliminary Statement acknowledged the Kingdom’s efforts at empowering women through the recently adopted law that seeks to increase the representation of women in Parliament. The Head of Mission also highlighted that the electoral system permits Eswatini citizens who reside outside the country to register and vote from their places of residence, and added that the 2018 elections were the first time that prison inmates had been permitted to vote.
The SEOM Preliminary Statement also identified the areas that require improvement; these include, the need to introduce continuous voter registration and polling station-based counting of ballot papers, enhancement of women’s participation and the establishment of special tribunals to handle electoral disputes. With respect to the media, the Head of Mission urged the media and the EBC to design and implement an Electoral Code of Conduct for the Media, and further encouraged media practitioners to improve their capacity to report on electoral issues.
The SEOM was constituted by observers from 10 SADC Member States namely Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and deployed 34 observers who covered all four administrative regions of the Kingdom of Eswatini.
The press event was attended by among others, Commissioners from the Elections and Boundaries Commission of Eswatini, Heads and representatives of Diplomatic Missions, regional and international observers, members of civil society, and the media.
The SEOM report of the 2018 General Elections in Eswatini will be completed and issued within 90 days after the close of the poll. The report will be directed to the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini and to the EBC.