Sadc observer mission endorses Mauritius poll
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Sadc Electoral Observer Mission to the 2019 general elections in Mauritius led by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo has described the just ended polls as professionally organised and conducted in a peaceful environment.
President Mnangagwa, who is chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security appointed Minister Moyo to lead the observer mission.
In its preliminary statement, the mission observed best practices that included political activities particularly campaign rallies, public meetings and door-to-door canvassing that were held under a peaceful environment.
“In conclusion, the Mission observed that the pre-election and voting phases of the 2019 National Assembly Elections were professionally organised, conducted in an orderly, peaceful and free atmosphere, which enabled the voters to express their democratic will and those who sought office campaigned freely,” said Minister Moyo while presenting the report in Port Louis at the weekend.
“The Mission urges the people of Mauritius to maintain their democratic spirit until the conclusion of the election cycle.”
During its tour of duty, the 45-member Mission met key stakeholders, such as government departments, political parties, civil society, faith-based organisations, academia, media, the Electoral Supervisory Commission and the Office of the Electoral Commissioner.
“There is confidence and trust amongst stakeholders in the manner in which the previous and current elections have been organised and conducted: voter registration and education were well conducted,” reads the report.
The Mission noted that of the 124 polling stations they visited, no campaign materials were visible within the 200 metres radius except at one polling station, and the police intervened accordingly.
“All polling stations were accessible to all voters including people with disabilities and these voters were given priority except at one polling station. Voter education materials, such as posters were posted outside all polling stations except for two.”
On areas that required improvement, the Mission expressed concern on the constitutional requirement for candidates to declare which community they belonged to as a condition of their candidature to be accepted as valid to contest for the 62 directly elected seats in Parliament.
The Constitution recognises four communities namely, Hindu, Muslim, Sino-Mauritian and general population.
“Although the above requirement was inserted at independence to ensure that no community was under-represented in Parliament, some sections of the community now consider it a divisive ethnic requirement. In this regard, some candidates failed to comply with this obligatory requirement and were therefore not permitted to stand as candidates,” noted the Mission.
On delimitation and constituencies, the Mission noted that the voter population in constituencies should be uniform in order to guarantee the equality of each vote.
“This principle is recognised in the constitution of Mauritius with respect to the delimitation of constituencies which is required to be carried out every 10 years,” reads the report.
It was also noted that the president reserved the right to dissolve Parliament at any time thus triggering a general election thereby creating uncertainty in the life cycle of the country’s democracy.
The Mission also noted that members of the National Assembly could cross the floor, meaning they could switch allegiance in the life cycle of Parliament.