Four SADC countries prepare for elections

SANF 19 no 45
Four countries in southern Africa will hold national elections in October and November – Mozambique, Botswana, Mauritius, and Namibia.

Mozambique will hold general elections on 15 October, followed by Botswana with parliamentary and local government elections on 23 October, while Mauritius and Namibia will go to the polls on 7 November and 27 November, respectively.

The elections will be observed by a number of local, regional and international organizations, including the SADC Electoral Observation Missions (SEOMs), which are expected to issue statements on the conduct of each of the polls.

These elections come a few months successful polls were held in the Union of Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi and South Africa, as well as the smooth transfer of power in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the year.

President Nyusi seeks re-election
Mozambique will elect a president, parliamentarians and provincial governors, in the fifth multi-party national elections and the first time there will be the direct election of governors.

A total of four candidates will contest for the presidency. These include the incumbent, Filipe Nyusi of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), who has been president since 2014 and is seeking re-election for a second and last term as stipulated by the Mozambican Constitution.

Frelimo, as the national liberation movement, has won all elections since Mozambique gained independence in 1975 and has a strong support base throughout the country. Nyusi’s main campaign message has been peace and stability.

One of his achievements has been the signing of a peace deal with the main opposition, Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) in August, which signalled an end to a long-running internal conflict that has affected socio-economic development.

However, the Renamo presidential candidate, Ossufo Momade has argued that the peace deal has not been fully honoured since his supporters allegedly continue to be subjected to violence.

Momade took over the Renamo leadership in May 2018 following the death of Afonso Dhlakama, and the 15 October elections will be his first.

The other two presidential candidates are Daviz Simango of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), and Mario Albino of the Action Party of the United Movement for Integral Salvation (Amusi).

The president is directly elected for a five-year term and the winning candidate is required to win 50 percent plus one of the valid votes cast.

If no candidate wins more than half of the votes cast in the first round, then a second round of voting will be conducted and contested by the top two candidates. The candidate who receives the majority votes in the second round will be elected president.

In the last election held in 2014, Nyusi gained 57 percent of the ballots cast compared to 36.6 percent by the late Dhlakama.

A total of 26 political parties have registered to take part in the elections and, for the first time, parties will appoint the governors for the provinces in which they get the most votes.

The House of Assembly in Mozambique is made of 250 members who are elected through a system of party-list proportional representation based on the country’s provinces.

According to the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) of Mozambique, more than 16 million people have registered to vote on 15 October. The country has a population of about 29 million.

The SADC Electoral Observation Mission for Mozambique is headed by Zimbabwe as the current chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, represented by Hon. Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs.

Botswana polls: A test for the ruling party
Election fever has gripped Botswana in polls whose outcome many say is likely to prove whether an individual is more influential than the party or that the party is supreme to any individual.

This follows the resignation of former President Ian Khama from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to back a newly established opposition party, the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), led by former minister Biggie Butale.

Khama, who was president from 2008 to 2018, broke away from the BDP following a fall-out with his successor and incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who did not want to continue “taking orders” from Khama.

Khama’s father – Sir Seretse Khama – was the founding President of Botswana and the BDP. The party has won all elections since independence in 1966.

According to a list cleared by the High Court of Botswana, Masisi and Butale will contest against two other candidates for the presidency — Duma Boko of the main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), and Ndaba Gaolathe of the Alliance for Progressives.

However, there are reports that the opposition parties have formed a coalition under the UDC led by Boko to challenge the BDP.

Botswana uses a single constituency electoral system of First-Past-The-Post for the election of Members of Parliament (MPs). Elected MPs then act as an electoral college to choose the President.

The Botswana Parliament has 63 seats, of which 57 are filled through direct votes. There are four seats reserved for the majority party in Parliament, while the President and Attorney General are ex-officio members.

In the last elections held in 2014, the BDP won 37 of the 57 elected seats, while the UDC won 17 and the Botswana Congress Party had three.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission of Botswana, a total of 791,568 Batswana had registered to vote by 31 March. The final number will be released before the elections. 

Mauritius prepares for parliamentary elections
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has set 7 November as Election Day when Mauritians will elect new MPs to serve in the 70-member unicameral Assembly for the next five years.

A total of 62 MPs are elected directly by popular vote in a system of block voting where each voter casts three ballots for three candidates from each of the 21 constituencies, including the offshore island of Rodrigues. The remaining eight MPs are selected from a list of “best losers”.

Jugnauth, who is also the Finance Minister, came to power in 2017 after the resignation of his father, Pravind Jugnauth, who was the then leader of the Alliance Lepep coalition.

Continuing the Mauritian tradition of forming coalitions, political parties are already in talks to form alliances ahead of the polls. Since 1991 no political party has obtained a second term after an election nor won a majority to form a government.

According to media reports, two of the main parties are expected to announce an alliance to challenge the Alliance Lepep coalition. These are the Labour Party led by former Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam and the Xavier-Luc-Duval-led Mauritian Social Democratic Party.

Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 1.3 million, gained independence from Britain in 1968.

Namibia to once again use electronic voting
Namibia will be the last SADC Member States to hold elections in 2019 when voters go to the polls on 27 November. The country will once again use electronic voting after it became the first country in Africa to use electronic voting in 2014.

The South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) has nominated incumbent President Hage Geingob as its presidential candidate. Other parties are yet to submit names to the Electoral Commission of Namibia.  According to the Namibian Constitution, such submission must be made by 18 October.

Namibia uses a majority system for presidential elections, in which the candidate with more than 50 percent of the votes is declared the winner, and Proportional Representation (PR) is used for legislative elections.

Under the PR system, each political party submits a list of candidates and then the parties receive seats proportional to their overall share of the national vote.

In the last election held in 2014, SWAPO won 80 percent of the vote for Parliament, while President Geingob won 87 percent of the vote. SWAPO has won all elections since independence from South African apartheid occupation in March 1990.

Geingob is seeking his second and last term in office as per the Namibian Constitution.

The Namibian Electoral Commission said in September that more than 1.2 million voters had by then registered to cast their votes on 27 November. sardc.net


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