International electoral observation in Southern Africa: Botswana experience
Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: International electoral observation has become a customary normative practice deeply embedded in Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) democratisation agenda. Consequently, the phenomenon demonstrated exponential growth in occurrence and relevance over time. In principle, international observers come at the invitation of the country conducting elections. However, the reality of current international political disposition compels ‘developing democracies’ to invite them. The presence of international electoral observers not only legitimizes, enhances transparency and credibility of elections, but also signifies conformity to international best electoral practices and norms. SADC created the Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) as an institutional mechanism to ensure electoral observation became an essential part of democratic processes in the region.Whereas, SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections were developed as a framework that articulates the regional norms and benchmarks for conducting democratic elections. International electoral observation is supposedly a systematic and comprehensive assessment to inform on the credibility, freeness, fairness and legitimacy of the electoral process. Observers monitor the pre-election, election and post-election phases of the electoral process with the objective to assist improve national electoral practices and processes as well as direct them towards international standards. However, findings of this study indicate that the impact of international electoral observation in Botswana is minimal. The country is predisposed to implement recommendations related to improving procedural or administrative aspects of the electoral process, as opposed those set to level the playing field and improve representation. Outcomes also reveal that it can never be determined with certainty if steps to improve electoral processes were a result of internal mechanisms such as the electoral audits and post-election stakeholder engagement conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) since both processes produced recommendations similar to those of international electoral observers. It is against this background that this study asks two questions, has international electoral observation been a useful tool to promote conformity of national electoral practices and processes to international electoral norms and best electoral practices. Secondly, how does Botswana’s electoral governance compare with regional best practices?
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Geen Afrikaanse opsomming is beskikbaar nie.