Pre-election Statement of the SADC-LA Election Observation Mission to the Presidential Election in Madagascar
SADC Lawyers Association
About SADC LA
The Southern African Development Community Lawyers’ Association (SADC Lawyers Association/SADCLA) is the representative body of law societies, bar associations and individual lawyers from the 15-member SADC region. SADCLA is dedicated to the advancement and promotion of human rights, the rule of law, democracy and good governance in the SADC Region and beyond.
Introducing the SADCLA Election Observation Mission (EOM)
The SADCLA is leading a Joint Election Observation Mission (JEOM) in partnership with the SADC Council of NGOs (SADC-CNGO) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). This is a technical expert observer mission targeting to add unique value to the analysis of the application, consistency and adequacy of the electoral legal framework in light of all occurrences in the electoral cycle of the Presidential Election. Due to multi stakeholder composition, we will be able to assess the Media freedoms as well as the civic space and citizen participation aspects within the electoral cycle.
The international regional electoral standards will be applied rigorously to the current process underway and the constitution, electoral laws and related regulations of Madagascar. In addition to the electoral obligations placed upon SADC Member States by the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, the SADC-LA places strong emphasis on other existing electoral standards and obligations that are contained in various regional, continental and international electoral instruments. These include the SADC PF’s Norms and Standards for Elections in the SADC Region (2001); Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the SADC (2003) by ECF-SADC and EISA; SADC PF’s Benchmarks for Assessing Democratic Elections in Southern Africa (2013); and the African Union’s African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007).
Through the extensive network with civic society groups under the SADC-CNGO, we have access to 9000 election observers, stakeholders and institutions that will pass on relevant information for analysis and interpretation in terms of the law, and we are open to all interaction and cooperation with other missions here present. We hope to make valid observations and firm technical conclusions to support progressive electoral conduct in the SADC Region.
SADCLA notes with concern the high level of mistrust in the High Constitutional Court acting as the Electoral Court. There is need to have a dedicated Electoral Court but the Constitution does not provide for this. A lack of confidence in the official dispute resolution mechanisms has a bearing on the finality of disputes as well as the legitimacy and legality of the court’s pronunciations.
SADCLA Notes the issue of a legal vacuum in relation to the pre-election period which results in sub-optimal regulation of electoral candidates, some of whom have campaigned well in advance of the official campaign period as a result.
This leads to concerns around candidate funding, which though regulated still is an area providing opportunity for unfair advantage for other candidates. The lack of sealing of campaign funding, coupled by rejection in the legislature of statutes to more closely regulate campaign funding, enables an uneven playing field.
SADCLA further acknowledges the presence of fair media coverage for candidates in the period running up to the elections. The closeness of some candidates to other media houses presents a concern that an uneven playing field still persists.
We are convinced though that the pre-election environment provides for a possibility of free, fair and peaceful elections. We remain optimistic that what we will witness during and after that elections will be the expression of the will of the Malagasy people!
BY MAXWELL XOLANI BOQWANA
Chief of Mission: Maxwell Xolani Boqwana – South Africa
Mission Coordinator: Stanley Nyamanhindi
Command Center: Carlton Hotel, Room 813
Mobile: : +261334836498 E-mail email@example.com