Five African States Going To The Elections This Year

By Akuba Mokoena

Many countries are going to the polls this year. Here are five from the African continent that we’ve selected to publish.

Nigeria’s 2019 polls will have 91 parties & over 12m new voters

Nigeria goes to the polls on 16 February and the voters will have 91 official parties to choose from, that country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disclosed in August last year.  It also confirmed yesterday that over 84million people had registered to vote.

The online news site reported that political parties in Africa’s most populous nation typically cut across the country’s geopolitical zones – the northern, middle and southern sectors.

“Nigeria politics is currently dominated by two main forces – the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The PDP lost political power in 2015 after ruling the country for 16 years prior. They produced three presidents over the period. Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Musah Yar Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election to incumbent Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari’s tenure expires next month when the new elections are to be held. Buhari has announced his intention to seek a final term”.

South Africa Goes To The Polls In May

Former President Jacob Zuma & President Cyril Ramaphosa put a united front at the January 8 Birthday Celebrations

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is set to dominate South Africa’s elections in May, having done so in every election since the advent of democracy in 1994. This is according to the latest opinion poll Ipsos which showed the ANC had sixty-one percent (61%) approval rate from 3,571 adults interviewed between Oct. 23 and Dec. 4 last year , while 14 percent said they’d back the Democratic Alliance, 9 percent the Economic Freedom Fighters and 2 percent the Inkatha Freedom Party. No other party polled more than 1 percent support. Six percent of respondents said they wouldn’t vote or didn’t know who they’d support, and 5 percent declined to answer.

On the ground however is another matter altogether. The ANC is battling factional fighting between supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa and former President Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa won the ANC’s presidency in 2017 by a narrow margin against now Minister in The Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Zuma was shortly after the conference forced to resign and his supporters have been accused of plotting to unseat Ramaphosa since then.

Several new parties, led by Zuma’s allies, have emerged in recent months and are said to have been established to whittle-down ANC support in the next polls.

Meanwhile the ANC is in KwaZulu Natal this week in preparation for its annual January 8th Statement celebrations which will be held on Saturday 12 January. The party’s Top 6 in the leadership structure have been holding various gatherings in the province but two events, one to be addressed by Zuma and another by Ramaphosa have been cancelled reportedly over simmering tensions in the party.

The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said the final for  would be on 26-27 January 2019.

More reading:

Women & Youth Will Decide Malawi’s May 21 Elections

President Peter Mutharika

Electoral stakeholders have mentioned youths and women as key to deciding the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) statistics showing they have formed the majority of registrants so far in the first five phases, reports

In September last year, voter registration had captured “3 721 774 voters out of whom 1 980 068 are women (representing 53.2 percent) and 1 741 199 are men (representing 46.78 percent).

From the 3.7 million registrants, 2 081 252 (or 56 percent) of all new registered voters are youths aged between 18 and 35, according to the statistics which also show that the total number of registrants was 300 000 short of the projected figures. The figure is also less than the 2014 registration at the same stage”.

Reuters reported in November that Malawian President Peter Mutharika had sacked Vice President Saulos Chilima in a cabinet reshuffle. Chilima is seen as the biggest threat to Mutharika.

Chilima had quit the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in July in protest at alleged corruption in the southern African nation, which has been rocked by graft scandals over the last decade.

Mauritania votes in key test for democracy

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

Mauritanians will vote in elections viewed as a key test of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s record with the international community calling for a credible and peaceful vote. Aziz will not be contesting for a third term in 2019.  The country is facing a series of issues including slavery, a poverty rate of 31%, and an official growth rate of three percent.

Around 1.4 million registered voters cast their ballots to elect their members of parliament, regional counselors and mayors last year. But in the lead-up to that vote, human rights groups such as Amnesty International condemned the crackdown on dissent, including arrests of opposition figures, anti-slavery activists and journalists.

Mauritania was the last nation in the world to outlaw slavery in 1981, but analysts agree it was merely a legal formality. An Arab-Berber elite continues to enslave black African ethnic groups, according to UN human rights experts, despite a 2007 law, passed under international pressure, that allows slaveholders to be prosecuted.

Tunisia’s 2019 “a decisive and electoral year par excellence”

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi

Tunisia’s President described 2019 on Monday evening as “a decisive and electoral year par excellence.” Beji Caid Essebsi added that 2018 had been “tough” in a televised New Year address to the people of his country.

“Last year was a challenging and tense year for all Tunisian citizens due to the high costs of everyday accommodation, the deterioration of purchasing power and unemployment,” explained the President. He acknowledged that, “In recent weeks there has been a proliferation of peaceful and non-peaceful protests in various areas, particularly, in Kasserine Province (west).”

Nevertheless, said Essebsi, “We will enter 2019 with a higher sense of responsibility and optimism because it is a decisive and electoral year par excellence. It is the year of the parliamentary and presidential elections which will be held in respect of freedom, impartiality and transparency standards. We want the coming elections to be dedicated to the democratic process we are going through.”

Tunisia is perceived as the only relatively successful democratic model among the Arab states that have experienced popular revolutions since late 2010. “Democracy cannot be imposed,” the Tunisian leader stressed, “it is, rather, practiced. It is necessary to provide the appropriate climate for elections to take place in convenient conditions.”

READ: Partisan, electoral and governmental perspectives in Tunisia

Essebsi told Tunisians that there are unfinished projects on the political agenda, such as the Constitutional Court. “We are behind schedule to establish the court, as three members have to be elected from the parliament.” Legislators failed for the fourth time in July to elect the three members. The Speaker of the Parliament, Mohammed Al-Nasser, declared at the time that none of the candidates received the required number of votes, set at 145.

As for the obstacles hindering the coming elections, he pointed out that the Independent High Authority for Elections (IHEC) still has no president. “An additional three committee members must be in place before the elections.” The IHEC Chairman, Mohammed Al-Mansri Al-Talili, announced his resignation last July, since when parliament has not been able to elect a successor to head the agency.

“Moreover,” insisted President Essebsi, “the Tunisian people must fulfil the duty of participating in the elections. There is no legitimate excuse to boycott them.” He made reference to the low participation rate, estimated at 33.7 per cent, in the municipal elections held last May.

“Whoever wants to run for office may do so,” added the veteran politician. “We will accept with pleasure the results of the elections.”

The upcoming elections in Tunisia are of particular importance, given that Essebsi announced recently the end of the accord with Ennahda movement, a member of the ruling coalition, due to its refusal to sack Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.



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