Windhoek – The SADC Director of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Jorge Cardoso has described the situation in the SADC Region as peaceful although there are a few challenges.
“The situation in our region is characterised as peaceful,” he said, as he addressed the media on Sunday ahead of the 38th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Windhoek, Namibia.
The summit takes place from 9-18 August.
He said that currently there were three member states on the SADC agenda, namely DRC, Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
“In DRC, we are engaged in assisting the country to go through the political process and assisting in preparing for elections,” he added.
The DRC is expected to go to the polls on 23 December 2018.
But Cardoso said that it would be a challenge to make sure that the electoral process is conducted in a peaceful manner in that country.
Dozens of people have been killed in the DRC since protests broke out in 2016 amid election delays now two years behind schedule.
President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his term in 2016 angered the opposition which sees the continued election delays as Kabila’s plot to hold on to power.
Cardoso said that they have intervened in the Eastern DRC, where there are ongoing conflicts.
The Kasai Region in the centre of the DRC is also another worrying area where continued instability poses a grave risk marred by ongoing inter-ethnic violence.
Cardoso said that SADC has also employed a mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho following political instability which started in 2014.
The SADC mission is being assisted by political structures there, while South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is facilitating the electoral process towards implementation of national security reforms.
When it comes to Zimbabwe, Cardoso said that SADC’s observation from conducting of voting to counting of votes was peaceful.
“Citizens and political parties were allowed to campaign freely as observed. Freedom of expression and freedom of association was respected by everyone and institutions of the country,” he pointed out, adding that there were a few innovations which included registration with a biometric system.
However, he said that they were mindful of the loss of life and hoped that institutions there would contact independent investigations to ascertain what happened.
Six civilians were killed dead amid protests and accusations of election rigging by the opposition, MDC Alliance after the election results were announced.
Protesters mainly believed to be MDC Alliance sympathisers clashed with army forces on the streets of Harare.
The ruling party, Zanu-PF won 145 parliamentary seats, while MDC-A took 63, while Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner of the presidential elections by 50.8 percent votes, against his main rival Nelson Chamisa’s (MDC-A) 44.3 percent of the vote.
Inauguration of Mnangagwa as President has been postponed with the MDC Alliance challenging the election results in the Constitutional Court.
“The constitutional court has 14 days to give a ruling on the matter,” said Cardosa.
He noted that although SADC’s general observation was that the elections were peaceful, but a final revised report would still be prepared 90 days after the election process is concluded.
Cardosa dismissed claims that SADC was “toothless” in taking control of conflicts in region, saying that some measures they put in place do not have the immediate desired outcome, but they continue to assist member states to make sure that the region remains peaceful.
“Our organisation is barred on rules and principles. We have to mindful that we do not replace institutions in member states,” he said.