Africa countries warned against possible State Capture that may result from accepting private or foreign funding during their General elections.
That was contained in the Report of the regional parliamentary model laws oversight Committee presented to the 53rd Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum in Arusha.
The Report addresses the topic on the ‘Progress on the domestication of the SADC model Law on elections: using electoral system design to achieve Inclusive governance, specifically women, youth and Minority groups participation and representation as well as Political financing regulation!”
The Committee noted further the importance of political party funding in elections and that this has to be regulated in order to avoid corrupt practices and misuse of public funding.
The Committee also heard that private funding, which in most cases was not regulated, could result in a number of problems, ranging from kick-backs to perpetration of illicit financial flows and in some instances, state capture.
The Committee observed that in many countries Business communities chipped in funds during General Elections but mostly in support of the ruling parties, with the aim of earning favors from governments.
In other developments the Committee was further informed that electoral systems were expected to facilitate the inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable social groups in society, especially women and the youth.
According to the Committee findings, women constituted generally more than 50 percent of the voting population while the youth accounted for over 60 percent of voters.
In addition, the Committee was informed that with adequate political commitment, electoral systems could promote meaningful inclusion, participation and representation of persons with disabilities.
The other concern raised from the report was the issue of many polling stations that seem to be usually located far away from residential areas, making the voting process cumbersome for most citizens, especially those in rural areas.
The Committee was informed that most of the electoral systems of SADC Member States were inherited from the colonial times and were out of context.
Therefore, they needed to be reformed and reform initiatives rested on Parliaments. Such reforms should not wait until there was a crisis but should be undertaken periodically.
Further, they should be informed by nationally and internationally recognized election standards, in particular those contained in the SADC Model Law on Elections.
This year four countries in the SADC region will be conducting General Elections and these are Zimbabwe, which goes to polls in July and August 2023 and Eswatini later in September 2023.
Madagascar, on the other hand, holds parliamentary elections between November and December 2023.
The Democratic Republic of Congo conducts polls in December 2023.
Seven other countries have planned their elections in the course of the year 2024.
These include Botswana, Comoros, Madagascar (Presidential), Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.
In 2025 Malawi and Tanzania will be conducting the country’s General Elections slated for the months of September and October respectively.
The committee was made up of regional parliamentarians under the Chairperson of Ishmael Ndaila Onani, from Malawi.
The Vice Chairperson is Shally Josepha Raymond of Tanzania.
Others are Regina Esparon, MP, Seychelles; Ramarosoa Emiline Rakotobe MP, Madagascar; Rosie Bistoquet, MP, Seychelles; Kassim Hassan, MP Tanzania; Dought Ndiweni,MP, Zimbabwe; Paula Kooper, MP, Namibia; Ramarosoa Emiline Rakotobe MP, Madagascar and Hawa Subira Mwaifunga, MP, Tanzania.