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Africa's Election Year
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Coen van Wyk

Jan 04, 2024

Many countries worldwide will go to the polls this year to elect representatices and Heads of State and Government. Africa is no exception and a number of elections will be closely monitored. The calendar has started with the Presidential elections in the Congo being called a sham by opposition leaders. Can we hope for better in 2024?

The scene is already being set to bring the 2024 American elections into question, with claims of redistricting and other allegations being heard. A number of other countries will also hold elections, but the African continent will not be left behind.

The Democratic Republic of Congo held its elections on December 20, and preliminary results give the incumbent President, Félix Tshisekedi, a landslide victory of 73% of the vote. Significant provinces were unable to vote due to military activity by rebels supported by neighboring countries. The Congo is potentially one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It has vast mineral riches: the richest tin, copper and cobalt deposits, uranium, gold, industrial minerals and one of the poorest populations in the world. Will the election results ring in significant changes?

South Africa is expected to vote in May. The ruling African National Congress (ANC), faces severe challenges due to the collapse of electricity supply, postal services and railroads under its administration. To add to the woes the previous President and African Trump clone, Jacob Zuma, will alternate his Stalingrad legal strategy to avoid justice with the creation of a new political party, which would possibly split the ANC support base and return less than 50% in their favour. Unemployment is a major issue. 

The Coup-ridden Mali should have elections in February if the military junta can solve their technical problems. In nearby Burkina Faso junta leader Ibrahim Traore had promised elections in July 2024, but here, too, security problems forced a postponement. In Ghana, elections are due in December 2024 and the ruling party will seek an unprecedented third term. Massive debt and economic turmoil may complicate things. 

In Senegal, elections are planned for February 25, and it has already caused violence, unrest and distrust. Social media is seeing creative use to circumvent controls of political meetings.

Rwanda is expected to go to the polls on July 15, and incumbent President Paul Kagame will seek to extend his three decade rule by another term. There is little opposition outside jail or exile. 

Chad is expected to hold elections in October following on the promulgation of a new Constitution. This would signal the end of a military transition after the previous President, Idriss Déby, died. Opposition leaders claimed that the ruling junta had too much control over the transition process. 

Tunisia will hold local elections in January and national elections in October. Economic troubles and unemployment will not make it easy for the ruling party to remain in power. 

Algeria is expected to go to the polls in December. The old elite that has held on to power since independence in 1962 is expected to build on a solid economic performance. 

The Comoros will hold elections on January 14. Former President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi is still in jail and opposition groups are divided. The fragmented nature of the population in this strategically important archipelago will make for a complicated political environment. 

Mozambique is expected to call on voters to choose parliamentarians and a Head of State in October. There is still considerable ethnic tension, and an insurgency in the north of the country seems to be spreading. 

Botswana will elect Members of Parliament in October. This will likely result in a test of support for the incumbent political leadership against the traditional following of former President Iain Khama, who is currently in exile in South Africa. 

Mauritius, Namibia and Guinea-Bissau are still to announce dates for their elections. 

The charged election calendar raises hope that the public will be able to exercise their votes in order to enhance democracy, hold politicians accountable for the uneven distribution of wealth and economic opportunity and progress. The track record is not encouraging. 

 

The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the individual author.

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