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DEMOCRACY IS AT WORK – AU

By SIFISO NHLABATSI | 2023-10-03

Elections observer missions in the country all agree that the national elections were free and fair.The observer missions were the African Union Elections Observation Mission (AUEOM) Electoral Commission Forum of SADC countries (ECF) and the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM).

AUEOM said the voting procedures and layout of the polling station in 98 per cent of polling stations visited allowed for a smooth flow of voters and guaranteed the secrecy of the ballot.   

Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the African Union, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, at a press conference held at Hilton Garden Inn yesterday delivered the preliminary statement on their observations.

divisions
He said the detailed final report would be delivered after a month.
The AUEOM further stated that the elections took place generally in a peaceful climate, notwithstanding the existence of some political divisions.

According to the AUEOM, the electoral process was firmly within the framework of respect for the electoral rights of citizens on the one hand and the candidates in the running, on the other hand.

The mission also observed that the elections were conducted on the same legal framework as the 2018 elections in particular: the Constitution of 2005, Elections Act (2013) (Amended 2023), Elections and Boundaries Act (2013) and the Election of Women Act (2018).

These instruments according to the AUEOM guarantee freedom of association and expression as well as the terms and procedures governing electoral processes in the country.

“The secondary elections were conducted under the Kingdom’s Tinkhundla electoral system of governance, which is run under a single-member plurality system (SMP) The Kingdom is divided into four administrative regions, and 59 Tinkhundla: Constituencies), in accordance with the provisions of Articles 82(1) and 80(1) of the Constitution.

Each inkhundla elects a single representative on a first-past-the-post basis who becomes the Member of Parliament for the area,” the commissioner explained.

He said in the run-up to the elections, key amendments were made to the Elections Act and Voter Registration Act, notably: continuous voter registration to be conducted annually, which promoted inclusion, counting of ballots at polling stations instead of centrally at constituency level, to promote transparency: the introduction of special voting for approved categories of voters, among others.

He noted that these fundamental reforms of national electoral law denoted the country’s efforts to consolidate pluralist democracy and the rule of law through better managed electoral processes in accordance with relevant African and international standards in terms political modernisation.

mandate
Adeoye stated that while welcoming the political maturity of the people of Eswatini and efforts taken by government to facilitate their stay and the proper execution of their mandate, “The AUEOM noted that the electoral process was held peacefully and orderly.

No cases of violence or use of hate speech was observed or reported to the mission.”
Further, he said the EMBs, civil society organisations, candidates and their delegates fulfilled their missions without any hindrance noted by the observer missions, in accordance with the National Legal Framework and the relevant regional, continental and international standards relating thereto.

This according to the commissioner inexorably illustrates that ‘Democracy is at work’ and was being consolidated in Eswatini.

He said they noted that elections day operations were administered in a manner that allowed the free expression of the will of the people.

“All stations visited closed on time and all voters who were in the queue at the time of closing were allowed to vote. In all polling stations observed, polling staff adhered to all closing and counting procedures completed all necessary documentation and as per requirement, copies of results forms were signed by candidate agents and posted outside the polling station. Counting was done in an orderly and professional manner in the presence of candidates and candidate agents,” Adeoye stated.

The AU observer team reported that the environment outside all polling stations visited was peaceful and noted the presence of police officers who were professional in their conduct throughout.

He said observers and party agents were present and able to perform their duties without any restrictions, which contributed to the transparency of the process. Former Zambia Vice President and SADC Electoral Observation Mission Head, Enock Kavindele, when delivering their observation also reiterated Adeoye’s words and said the mission observed that the pre-election and voting phases were peaceful, calm and well organised in line with the Revised SADC Guidelines and Principles Governing Democratic Elections.

He commended Emaswati for maintaining a peaceful political environment during the pre-election and on voting day.

He said they would release the final report after the validation and proclamation of final results, as provided for in the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2021).

The report will be shared with the government and Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) first and 90 days thereafter with relevant stakeholders.

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