Multiparty democracy was adopted in nearly every country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the 1990s in response to domestic popular pressure as well as encouragement from the international community. These changes fundamentally altered politics in the region, resulting in historic transitional elections in Namibia (1990), Zambia (1991), Angola (1992), Lesotho (1993), Malawi (1994), Mozambique (1994), South Africa (1994) and Tanzania (1995). These elections were not always close, but did offer citizens real choices and the chance to participate as voters.
Civic organizations in many SADC countries have played an important role in safeguarding elections. By recruiting, training and deploying thousands of monitors on election day these groups deterred and documented fraud during voting and counting. Their oversight not only improved the conduct of elections, but gave political parties and the public greater confidence in the process. As a result of domestic monitoring efforts by these groups, transitional and second elections held in the 1990s generally reflected the will of the people. However, in order to contribute to the conduct of free and fair elections in the future, these groups will need to develop increasingly advanced technical skills required to confront the new and more sophisticated challenges that serve to undermine elections. Because these challenges are similar across the SADC region, an opportunity exists to address these concerns by engaging groups on a regional basis. In response to their common experiences, domestic monitoring groups from across the region have formed the SADC Election Support Network (SADC-ESN) to support information and skills sharing.
In cooperation with the SADC-ESN, NDI is working to enhance the capacity of civic organizations in Southern Africa to safeguard elections through monitoring on election day and during the pre- and post-election periods. Over the last 20 years, NDI has assisted domestic nonpartisan election monitoring efforts by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in more than 65 countries. NDI is partnering with the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) which serves as the SADC-ESN secretariat and has provided technical assistance to monitoring groups in countries throughout the SADC region including Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia.
For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:
Oge Onubogu, Program Manager