OBJECTIVES OF SEAC
The main objective of SEAC shall be to advise SADC on issues pertaining to elections and the enhancement of democracy and good governance.
The specific objectives, scope of work and tasks of SEAC shall include the following:
1. Specific objectives
- To urge and encourage SADC Member States to adhere to SADC Principles and Guideline Governing Democratic Elections.
- To encourage SADC Member States to adhere to international best practices whenever they are holding elections.
- To advise SADC Member States on strategies and issues to enhance and consolidate capacity of Electoral Management Bodies in the SADC region.
- To encourage SADC Member States to uphold and respect the independence and autonomy of Electoral Management Bodies.
2. Scope of Work
- Ensure the application and review of SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections in the SADC region.
- Observe and advise Member States on electoral in the SADC region as mandated by MCO within the SADC Electoral Observer Mission.
- Collaborate with other regional, continental and international organizations and institutions;
- and Organise fora for dialogue with key stakeholders as defined by the mandate of the SEAC;
- Facilitate the development of mediation strategies to address conflicts in the Pre and Post election period.
3. Specific Tasks
- Encourage the development, improvement and review of electoral laws and regulations in SADC Member States;
- Initiate and facilitate relevant research through networking for the development of an appropriate database, on electoral processes.;
- Provide information and advisory services to SADC Member States and SEOM;
- Develop a five year strategic plan driven by annual work-plans;
- Organise quarterly review meetings for SEAC;
- Produce reports for every activity undertaken;
- Facilitate training of Election Observers for the region.
SEAC PROCEDURE ON ELECTIONS
- Impartiality shall be observed in the conduct of the business of SEAC
- Upon notification by the SADC Executive Secretary, SEAC shall advance a mission to the Member State holding elections, fifteen days prior to elections;
- Where there is indication of an election-related dispute in a Member State, SEAC shall advise the MCO, through the ISPDC, to consider the matter;
- SEAC shall work in close collaboration with relevant SADC conflict prevention, management and resolution bodies.
- SEAC shall ensure the implementation of the recommendations emanating from SADC Electoral Observer Missions (SEOM) and SEAC reports, research findings as well as MCO directives.
- The SEAC shall disseminate best practices and lessons learnt from electoral processes to all member states.
GUIDELINES FOR THE OBSERVATION OF ELECTIONS
SADC Member States shall be guided by the following guidelines to determine the nature and scope of election observation:
- Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens;
- Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections;
- Non-discrimination in the voters' registration;
- Existence of updated and accessible voters roll;
- Timeous announcement of the election date;
- Where applicable, funding of political parties must be transparent and based on agreed threshold in accordance with the laws of the land;
- Polling Stations should be in neutral places;
- Counting of the votes at polling stations;
- Establishment of the mechanism for assisting the planning and deployment of electoral observation missions; and
- SADC Election Observation Missions should be deployed at least two weeks before the voting day.
SADC ELECTORAL SUPPORT UNIT (ESU): STRUCTURE AND MANAGEMENT
1) There shall be an Electoral Support Unit under the Directorate of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation which shall provide administrative functions related to SEAC and electoral matters.
2) The Electoral Support Unit shall comprise of the following staff:
- Politics and Diplomacy Officer
- Elections and Good Governance Officer
- Research Officer
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR ELECTION OBSERVERS
The code of conduct for the elections observers of SADC are consistent with those of the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa - AHG/DECL. 1 (XXXVIII). In this regard, the SADC Election Observation Missions shall adhere to the following code of conduct:
Must comply with all national laws and regulations;
Shall maintain strict impartiality in the conduct of their duties, and shall at no time express any bias or preference in relation to national authorities, parties and candidates in contention in the Election process. Furthermore they will not display or wear any partisan symbols, colours or banners;
Shall neither accept nor attempt to procure any gifts, favours or inducements from a candidate, their agent, the parties or any other organisation or person involved in the electoral process;
Shall immediately disclose to the relevant SADC structures any relationship that could lead to a conflict of interest with their duties or with the process of the observation and assessment of the elections;
Will base all reports and conclusions on well documented, factual, and verifiable evidence from multiple number of credible sources as well as their own eye witness accounts;
Shall seek a response from the person or organisation concerned before treating any unsubstantiated allegation as valid;
Shall identify in their reports the exact information and the sources of the information they have gathered and used as a basis for their assessment of the electoral process or environment;
Shall report all information gathered or witnessed by them honestly and accurately;
Shall, when meeting election officials, relevant state authorities and public officials, parties, candidates and their agents shall inform them of the aims and objectives of the SEOM;
May wish to bring irregularities to the attention of the local election officials, but they must never give instructions or countermand decisions of the election officials;
Will carry any prescribed identification issued at all times, and will identify themselves to any interested authority upon request;
Will undertake their duties in an unobtrusive manner, and will not interfere with the election process, polling day procedures, or the vote count;
Will refrain from making personal or premature comments or judgements about their observations to the media or any other interested persons, and will limit any remarks to general information about the nature of their activity as observers;
Must participate in the briefings/training provided by the SEOM;
Must provide their reports on time to their supervisors and attend any debriefings as required; and
Should work harmoniously with each other and with observers from other organisations in their area of deployment.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF SADC ELECTION OBSERVERS
The rights and responsibilities of the SOEM are based on the SADC experience and the AU Guidelines for Electoral Observation and Monitoring Missions. Accordingly the following shall be the rights and responsibilities of the SADC Elections Observers:
Freedom of movement within the host country;
Accreditation as election observers on a non-discriminatory basis:
Unhindered access to and communicate freely with the media;
Free access to all legislation and regulations governing the electoral process and environment;
Free access to electoral registers or voters’ roll;
Unimpeded and unrestricted access to all polling stations and counting centres;
Communicate freely with all competing political parties, candidates, other political associations and organisations, and civil society organisations;
Communicate freely with voters without prejudice to the electoral law proscribing such communication in order to protect the secrecy of the vote;
Communicate with and have unimpeded and unrestricted access to the National Election Commission or appropriate electoral authority and all other election administrators;
The SEOM shall be headed by an appropriate official from the Office of the Chairperson of the Organ who shall also be the spokesperson of the Mission;
Send regular reports on the electoral observation process to the Representative of the Organ on issues that may require urgent consideration;
Issue a statement on the conduct and outcome of the elections immediately after the announcement of the result; and
Prepare a Final Report within 30 (thirty) days after the announcement of the results.