From 25 November to 4 December 2017, an Electoral Technical Committee comprising members of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC), conducted a technical assessment Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to assess the electoral administration capacity and technical needs of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) ahead of the country’s anticipated national elections in December 2018.
Among others, the specific objectives of the Mission included an assessment of the political and security environment in the DRC and constitutional and legal framework governing the electoral process of the country; an investigation of the challenges faced by CENI in preparing for the elections; and analyses of potential risks of electoral-related violence. The Mission was sanctioned by the SADC Summit of August 2017 which tasked the Committee to establish the electoral administration capacity and technical needs of CENI and advice SADC on the type and modalities of electoral assistance that the Region should provide to the DRC for its electoral process. The joint Mission was also a response to the United Nations call for a coordinated response by the international community in mobilising political, technical, financial and logistical support to assist CENI in preparing for the forthcoming elections.
During the Mission, the Committee engaged with a range of electoral stakeholders who among others included CENI, political parties, civil society, Government Ministries, Catholic Bishops of the DRC, diplomatic missions accredited to the DRC and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). The Committee also had the opportunity to explore the voting machine that CENI intends to use in the upcoming elections. In addition, the Committee benefitted from CENI’s presentation on its logistical plan for the deployment of election material across the country. The Committee also took note of other developments underway in preparation for the elections. These include the release of the electoral calendar on 5 November 2017, the on-going review of the electoral law by the current Parliamentary session, and the voter registration process which is anticipated to be completed in January 2018.
With regard to CENI’s preparedness to conduct the elections, the Committee engaged both CENI and key stakeholders on among others, the following issues:
- Voter registration
- Voting machine
- Electoral calendar
- Stakeholder engagement
- Voter education
- Credibility of CENI
- Capacity building of CENI
This was the first joint Mission conducted by SEAC and ECF-SADC in the Region. The two electoral bodies will continue to work closely in providing technical expertise for SADC’s electoral support initiatives in the DRC. The Mission was led by Advocate Abel Leshele Thoahlane, SEAC Chairperson from Lesotho. The members of the delegation included Professor Mpho Molomo (SEAC Member from Botswana); Justice (Rtd.) John Billy Tendwa, (SEAC Member from Tanzania); Advocate Notemba Tjipueja (EXCO Chairperson and Chairperson of Electoral Commission of Namibia); Mr Simon Mamabolo (Chief Electoral Officer – Electoral Commission of South Africa); Mr Chomba Chella (Acting Chief Electoral Officer – Electoral Commission of Zambia); Ms Hilda Modisane (ECF-SADC Secretariat) and officers from the SADC Secretariat.