Southern Africa: With Elections Looming in Botswana and Mozambique, SADC Watchdog Must Grow Some Teeth


SADC has a responsibility to condemn government attempts to clamp down on criticism or peaceful protests arising from disputed elections to ensure peace in the region. With elections looming in Mozambique and Botswana, SADC's credibility as a custodian of democracy will be measured by its response to events there.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) -- charged with promoting election integrity, strengthening democracy and advancing human rights -- is failing. The latest evidence comes from Malawi. The next tests will come in Mozambique and Botswana where elections are due to be held in October 2019.

In Malawi, opposition members and human rights activists have held regular demonstrations since the country held elections on 21 May 2019. President Peter Mutharika of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party won the elections with 38.5% of the vote, but the results were widely disputed by the opposition Malawi Congress Party and the United Transformation Movement. The parties are contesting the results in the Supreme Court and allege the vote was marred by fraud and mismanagement of the election process by the Malawi Election Commission (MEC).

Thousands of Malawians have since taken to the streets, calling for the resignation of the chairperson of the MEC. The...

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