SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections
SADC region has made significant strides in the consolidation of the citizens’ participation in the decision-making processes and consolidation of democratic practice and institutions. The Constitutions of all SADC Member States enshrine the principles of equal opportunities and full participation of the citizens in the political process.
The Southern African countries, building upon their common historical and cultural identity forged over centuries, agreed to encapsulate their commonality into a single vision, that of a SHARED FUTURE. In this context, in 1992 the Southern African countries meeting in Windhoek, the Republic of Namibia, signed a Treaty establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Article 4 of the Treaty stipulates that “human rights, democracy and the rule of law” are principles guiding the acts of its members. Article 5 of the Treaty outlines the objectives of SADC, which commits the Member States to “promote common political values, systems and other shared values which are transmitted through institutions, which are democratic, legitimate and effective. It also commits Member States to “consolidate, defend and maintain democracy, peace, security and stability” in the region.
The Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation provides that SADC shall “promote the development of democratic institutions and practices within the territories of State Parties and encourage the observance of universal human rights as provided for in the Charter and Conventions of the Organization of African Unity [African Union] and the United Nations.”
In addition, the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO), as the implementation framework of the Protocol, emphasizes the need for democratic consolidation in the region. The development of the principles governing democratic elections aims at enhancing the transparency and credibility of elections and democratic governance as well as ensuring the acceptance of election results by all contesting parties.
The Guidelines are not only informed by the SADC legal and policy instruments but also by the major principles and guidelines emanating from the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa – AHG/DECL.1 (XXXVIII) and the AU Guidelines for African Union Electoral Observation and Monitoring Missions – EX/CL/35 (III) Annex II.