President Ian Khama has once again issued a stern warning that all Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states should continue adhering to set SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections. Speaking at a banquet held in honor of King Letsie III, who was on a state visit to Botswana, President Khama urged all SADC countries that will be holding elections this year to adhere to set election guidelines and principles.
“A good number of countries in our region, including Botswana will hold elections this year. I wish to reiterate that Botswana will continue to take a strong position on all elections within the SADC region. It is therefore, our hope that all upcoming elections will adhere to the guidelines that we set for ourselves,” said President Khama.
Botswana recently threatened to withdraw its participation in SADC observer missions if the SADC did not respond to concerns about the conduct of the general elections in Zimbabwe last year, which were won by President Robert Mugabe. In the past President Khama has labeled SADC election observer missions a waste of time and money and accused the SADC of ignoring the findings of some observer missions. He also revealed that Botswana has written to the SADC to raise concerns about the manner in which member states repeatedly flout the organization’s election rules and guidelines.
At the banquet, President Khama congratulated the Republic of South Africa, who have just marked a milestone of twenty years of democracy, for holding of free and fair elections. He extended congratulations to President Jacob Zuma and his party the ANC for their re-election. He added that the successful conduct of the South Africa elections in particular, demonstrates their individual and collective commitment to the common values of democracy, development, political stability and accountability.
“We must as SADC work tirelessly to build on the principles of the holding of credible elections,” he said.
President Khama also congratulated King Letsie III for Lesotho’s assumption of chairmanship of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security later this year and expressed hope that they will continue to spearhead efforts towards finding lasting and durable solutions.
“You can count on our support during your tenure of office,” he said.
The year 2014 will be a hectic election year for the SADC as five of its 14 member states, with potential voters totaling 40 million, will be casting their ballots. South Africa held its elections on May 7, while Malawi will hold theirs on May 20, Botswana in October, Mozambique on October 15, and Namibia in November.
The South African elections were won by the ruling ANC. In Botswana, President Khama of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is also expected to successfully defend his seat. For the first time since she ascended to the Presidency, Joyce Banda will finally be put to the test at the ballot box. She was voted in as Vice President in 2009 and formed the People’s Party (PP) in 2011 following her expulsion from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after a fall out with then President Bingu wa Mutharika. Banda became President after Mutharika’s death and she will be defending her presidency for the first time in this election. Mozambique will also hold presidential and parliamentary elections on 15 October against the background of reignited civil war while the Namibian elections will be in November.