SADC Electoral Advisory Council Assesses Goodwill Ahead of Zimbabwe General Elections
The SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) is currently conducting consultations with stakeholders in Zimbabwe ahead of the general elections scheduled to take place between July and 26th August 2023. This pre-election goodwill assessment mission aims to assess the country’s electoral environment and identify any potential challenges or issues that could affect the integrity of the voting process.
The SEAC Leadership
The SEAC pre-election goodwill mission is being led by Judge Ticheme Dlamini, the Chairperson of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) and the SEAC Member from the Kingdom of Eswatini. The deputy chairperson of SEAC, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja, the SEAC member from the Republic of Namibia, is also part of the mission team. The two leaders joined other SEAC experts to begin a series of meetings with Zimbabwe’s independent electoral commissions and the government to review electoral preparedness and stakeholders’ concerns.
Aim of SEAC Pre-Election Mission
The SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) pre-election goodwill mission aims to assess the conduct of political parties, political actors, government and institutions, the media and civil society organizations towards the elections. The mission is also tasked with assessing the legal framework for elections and the electoral process up to election day, voter education and the conduct of the elections.
SEAC Meets with Various Stakeholders
During the goodwill mission, Judge Dlamini and Advocate Tjipueja and other SEAC members have met with various stakeholders, including political parties, civil society organizations, independent media, and government officials. The mission team has also met with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to discuss the current electoral environment, view voter registration sites and interact with Zimbabwean citizens to assess their perception of the electoral process.
SEAC Report: Key Concerns
After these meetings, SEAC’s preliminary report outlined key concerns in Zimbabwe’s electoral environment. The report noted a lack of trust in the electoral process by some stakeholders, complaints about voter registration, and restrictions on access to the media. Further observations by SEAC noted a lack of diversity in election observation groups and shortcomings in the law governing electoral proceedings, including the role of the military in the electoral process.
To address these concerns, SEAC has recommended several measures to foster an inclusive electoral environment in Zimbabwe. The SEAC proposed that the government should enhance voter education and awareness programs, guarantee free and independent media coverage of political processes, and encourage broad participation in electoral processes. It also articulated the need for more rigorous commitments to limit the role of the military in electoral processes and ensure that it is subject to the Civilian Government’s oversight.
The goodwill mission allows the SEAC to provide Zimbabwe with a comprehensive report containing best practices, guidance, and recommendations for fostering an inclusive and credible electoral process before the general elections of 2023. Ultimately, the goal is to engender confidence in Zimbabwe’s electoral environment and lay a foundation for peaceful and credible democratic processes.