Statement on the Official Launch of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2014 National Assembly Elections in the Republic of Mauritius by Honourable Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), Moka, 01 December 2014
- Hon. Deputy Minister Molekane, of the Republic of South Africa;
- SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration
- Chairperson of the Electoral Supervision Commission;
- Members of the Electoral Supervision Commission;
- Electoral Commissioner;
- Leaders and Representatives of Political Parties;
- Your Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions accredited to the Republic of Mauritius;
- Election Observation Missions;
- Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
- Religious leaders;
- Members of the Civil Society;
- Members of the Media;
- Ladies and gentlemen.
It is indeed a privilege and honour to welcome you to the launch of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2014 National Assembly Elections in the Republic of Mauritius.
I also wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, His Excellency Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, to convey our well wishes to the people of the Republic of Mauritius for peaceful, free, fair and credible elections on 10 December 2014.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are here today, on invitation from the Mauritian authorities. In accordance with the provisions of the ‘SADC Treaty’, ‘SADC Protocol on Political, Defence and Security Cooperation’ and ‘SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections’, the Government of the Republic of Mauritius has invited SADC to observe the forthcoming 2014 National Assembly Elections. I am told these upcoming elections will be Mauritius’ 10th democratic election post-independence.
We are pleased to be here, in this beautiful country in support of democracy, peace and stability in the region.
As part of his mandate as the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation President Zuma has appointed me, supported by Deputy Minister Molekane, to launch the SADC Electoral Observer Mission to the Republic of Mauritius (SEOM).
Many of you may also be aware that this SEOM is one of many. 2014, has been a particularly active one for democratic consolidation in our region. Since South Africa assumed the role as the Chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation in August 2014, I have had the pleasure of launching SADC SEOMs in Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia thus far, and I know in the New Year there will be more to come. Our presence and representation at elections in the region is a testament to our collective support for democratic norms and practise.
SADC is a diverse region with different peoples, cultures and laws, yet it is encouraging that we are still committed to the ideals set by our fore bearers when they conceived our ideal of regional cooperation and integration. Regular, peaceful and well executed elections in our region are an indication that we are living up to the objectives and vision of a SADC which consolidates, defends and maintains democracy peace and stability.
As much as elections are becoming a regular institution in the broader context of promoting democracy, so too is election observation. The presence and deployment of SEOMs helps to enhance the credibility of the electoral process, and encourages the development of a culture of freedom of expression, association and fairness, which should be part and parcel of every election.
The SEOM observation process will be conducted within a set of parameters and benchmarks which encompass the ‘SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections’, the AU’s ‘African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance’, relevant legislation of the Republic of Mauritius and other international best practices.
In the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections the countries of the region have agreed to build upon our common historical and cultural identity. Our governments all agreed to abide by the principles of “human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, and to collectively “consolidate, defend and maintain democracy, peace, security, and stability” in the region.
To affirm the commitment made by our leaders, many years ago, the SADC SEOM through the leadership of the Deputy Executive Secretary, the SADC Secretariat and the Deputy Minister as the Head of Mission, will deploy observers across various districts and voting constituencies.
Their task will be to observe and consider the general conduct of the elections against the SADC Principles for observing democratic elections; they will observe the participation of citizens in the political process; freedom of association and political tolerance. They will also be mandated to observe whether equal opportunities are given for all political parties to access state media; and if citizens are given the chance to exercise the right to vote and be voted for freely and fairly.
The voting process will be held to the same standard as each of the other countries where we have held SEOMs. It is guided by our shared commitment to the principles and guidelines, which member states have signed.
The Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions, as well as the extent to which voter education is freely available, will also be observed.
Our officials will be visible on voting day to affirm SADC’s commitment and support for democracy to the people of Mauritius. As we head to Election Day, the challenge and responsibility of peaceful, free and fair elections lies in the hands of the Mauritian people.
The deployment of this SEOM has been informed by the Report of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council’s (SEAC) goodwill mission and pre-deployment assessment, which was undertaken to Mauritius, from 19 to 22 Novembers 2014. The mission was undertaken with a view to assess the level of readiness and preparedness of the country to hold the forthcoming elections.
Indeed, the SEAC Report gives us assurance that the political atmosphere and security environment are conducive for holding peaceful and free elections; and the electoral management bodies have undertaken the necessary provisions and preparations for holding the 2014 National Assembly Elections.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to note that over the past years, SADC election observations missions have made a meaningful contribution to the consolidation of Democracy in the region through sharing lessons learnt and best practices. In the same vein, it is our expectation that these elections will continue to contribute to the enhancement of the Democracy in the region.
We wish extend our wishes to the people of Mauritius as they exercise the right to vote and to be voted for, through their constitutional provision of universal suffrage.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
May this election be a genuine indication of true citizen participation in the political process as the people of Mauritius make their decision on their future by electing leaders of their choice!
On behalf of the Chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, H.E Jacob G. Zuma, I declare the SADC Electoral Observation Mission to the Republic of Mauritius officially launched.
Thank you very much