Harare – SADC has failed to deploy election observer missions to elections held since last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was said in a statement on Wednesday by the outgoing chair of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO), Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava, after a virtual meeting of the Organ.
Observation missions were not deployed to observe elections in Malawi, Seychelles and the United Republic of Tanzania in 2020.
“Instead, virtual consultations with electoral stakeholders in these Member States were undertaken during pre-election, election, and post-election periods.
“Related to that, our sister Republic of Zambia reaffirmed that they were ready to hold their General Elections next month. The SADC Committee of Ministers of Health, supported by the SADC Electoral Advisory Authority and the SADC Secretariat will be monitoring the current third wave of the COVID-19 and advise the best way forward regarding the deployment of a SADC Electoral Observation Mission to that country,” Minister Shava said.
The pandemic has disrupted normal life since its outbreak last year with various activities being postponed or cancelled.
Meanwhile, Minister Shava said Zimbabwe has become the first country in Sadc to exempt all Member States from visa requirements as part of accelerated efforts to operationalise the African Continental Free Trade Area.
African countries are relaxing visa rules for each other to boost trade and tourism facilitated by the historic free trade agreement, AfCFTA, ratified by African Union (AU) member states and came into force in 2019.
“Regarding the implementation of the visa exemption among SADC Member States and the facilitation of free movement of SADC citizens within the region, I wish to highlight that Zimbabwe is the first and only country that has exempted all SADC Member States from visa requirements, other SADC Member States are undertaking internal processes to ensure that SADC citizens can travel freely in the region.”
“It may also be recalled that as part of SADC’s broader regional integration agenda, efforts towards a SADC UNIVISA are ongoing,” said Minister Shava.
“I am happy to note that through the efforts of our Ministry of Home Affairs and cultural heritage and the Department of Immigration, Zimbabwe is now part of the five countries that are part of the UNIVISA pilot project.”
The AfCFTA is the strategic framework for delivering on Africa’s goal for inclusive and sustainable development through enhanced trade.
The next session of the MCO will be held in South Africa on a date and venue to be advised.