Senior Election Officials from Botswana’s Independent Electoral Commission were scheduled to leave today (Sunday) for South Africa to observe that country’s National Assembly and Provincial Legislative election from the 14th -26th April, 2009 as part of the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries.
Apparently, all electoral commissions in the region except, Mauritius and Malawi, are sending delegates to form the ECFÔÇôSADC Observer mission, comprising 30 members, including Botswana.
Botswana will be represented by Professor Balefi Tsie and Alexander Yalala, with Osupile Maroba, the IEC-Public Relations Officer. The first two are members of the IEC.
Hilda Modisane, ECF-SADC Program coordinator in Botswana confirmed both the trip and the composition of the observer mission.
“It should be noted, however, that the ECF-SADC’s decision to observe the RSA elections, although within the realm of our mandate, is at the invitation of the Independent Electoral Commission of that country,” said Modisane.
She added that ECF-SADC views election observation as an important component of promoting democratic elections and consolidating democracy in the SADC region.
“The rationale behind the forum observing elections is to assist fellow Election management bodies in identifying areas to improve on in their elections administration,” posited the ECF-SADC official.
Against this background, Botswana’s IEC Principal Election Officer, Dintle Rapoo, confirmed their invitation, and acknowledged that the election management body will not let the opportunity slip away.
Four senior officers from regional offices have been selected for attachment, “and underline ‘attachment’ not as election observers, but rather for hands on practice experience in the hope that they would utilize the exposure to learn what they can so as to enhance our own systems where it may be found wanting,” highlighted Rapoo.
However, Rapoo hastened to point out that a distinction must be drawn between two categories of people who will be going to South Africa.
There are officials, such as our Commissioners of the IEC, who have been directly nominated by ECF-SADC and, therefore, will only account to ECF-SADC, which will then come up with a SADC Regional report based on the feedback of all its deployed members.
As for the team from the Botswana IEC office, like IECs of other concerned countries, they will report back to them, said Rapoo, adding that it is the ECF-SADC team than can form a position regarding the legitimacy of the process at the observed elections.
From the National Assembly, three members of Parliament representing Botswana include Botlhogile Tshireletso, as Chairperson of the Democracy, Governance and Gender Equality for the SADC Region, who will also be the leader of the delegation, with Moggie Mbaakanyi, who is a member of the Women Caucus of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and Reggie Reatile, a Member of Parliament from the Botswana National Front.
Tshireletso told the Sunday Standard in an interview that on their return, they will account to the House as well as to the relevant forum at SADC PF on observance of the SADC Protocols and standards.
On whether Reatile goes on behalf of the BNF or opposition, Tshireletso pointed out that he was nominated by the Speaker of the National Assembly, but it may be on that basis.
South Africa goes to the polls amid a tense and contested election following the recent victory of the ANC President Jacob Zuma against what was widely believed to have been smear political campaign by his former boss, Thabo Mbeki.