In one of his last SADC duties as Chairman his Excellency President Ian Khama delivered a speech on the importance of preserving Africa’s democracies through incorporating Electoral Management Bodies to ensure free and fair elections. Botswana hosted SADC’s 18th annual conference themed- ‘Institutionalising Electoral Performance Audits for enhanced integrity’. The president lamented on the importance of managing elections and being as transparent as possible as a means of ensuring free and fair elections which in turn ensures proper conduct of democracy.
This year’s conference was attended by delegates and dignitaries from various SADC regions such as Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, DRC, South Africa, Mauritius and Botswana. SADC countries each comprise of Election Management Bodies which all fall under the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries (ECF-SADC) an independent organisation that is based in Gaborone.
Electoral Performance Audits have been gaining momentum to be implemented in all African countries as a means of ensuring free and fair elections. Botswana particularly has successfully incorporated performance audits conducted by independent Electoral Management Boards since 1999 and have been used in the past three elections. However Africa in general according the president has a long way to go in terms of electoral management especially since a majority of African countries are transitional democracies. Elections management bodies are meant to protect democracy “they inform our plans for a future that will confirm elections and Elections Management Bodies as a necessity and pillar for secure nations” says Khama.
The urgency for democracy as observed has come at a high cost for some African countries, as often elections can cause instability. Insatiability is usually a lack of political adherence. President Khama said “elections should be accompanied by political adherence for the sake of social, political and economic progress, peace and stability”. A number of African countries are going through transitional democracies; therefore it is especially pivotal to avoid the by-products that come with transitioning into a democracy such as violence.
Despite occasional occurrence of election chaos, the president believes Africa is taking baby steps towards transitional democracy by adopting the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and other election bodies such as Principles for Management, Monitoring and Observation. These bodies pave way and give hope to all African countries transitioning into democratic practices.