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Opinions of Monday, 27 January 2014

Columnist: Frimpong, Paul

Your last term, mr. President

Africa’s 2014 Election Watch

In 2014, its show time across the African continent. A huge year for election lies ahead, at least elections would hit many of the giant economies across the region. Many voters, in 2014 would go to the polls in some of the biggest countries to elect their political and local leaders. For once, elections in 2014 would matter, especially as such times that Africa seeks to consolidate democracy.

African elections are often rigorous and vigorous. All that you can think of when one wants to capture power, come to play in an African election. The stakes in African elections are often high and broad with so many interested parties both locally and internationally to serve. They are often big, noisy and disputable. Not forgetting the acrimonious debates that would mar the media landscape, making African voters more confused than they already are.

There would definitely be that time in the election campaign, where these leaders would deliver their grandiloquent speeches which lack an iota of ideas needed for transformation. They will feature the biggest of rallies and parades; electrify the political atmosphere with their ‘noisy speeches’; cluster the streets with their huge bill boards and posters; and still cloud themselves in given bribes and goodies to reach their political end.

The contests in 2014 will be different. Different because, electorates across the board are beginning to get impatient with their already elected and ruling political leaders. This has also made most political leaders face agony of dilemma. Many electorates have now identified their political leaders as weak and indecisive. The question is how strong the electorates would be in these times.

At least close to 20 elections are expected to hit the continent in 2014. These include district, presidential, parliamentary; local; referendum; national assembly; council etc. elections.

There would be presidential elections in Algeria, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Malawi; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Tunisia etc.

In Algeria, a country searching for ideas and means to transform politically, ailing incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 76, would be facing some domestic challenges as he seeks for a fourth term after over a decade of ruling. In the past, it was highly impossible for political opponents to have a say in Algerian elections. Thanks to the Arab revolution which led to the ousting of Ben Ali, Muamur Gaddafi and the likes; it has made this possible and now opposition parties have feet.

Among the grand opponent in Algeria to the current President’s policies is Ahmed Benbitour, who willingly left power as Prime Minister.

In Malawi by now, President Joyce Banda and her political allies are preparing for vigorous elections scheduled to take place in 2014 especially, as senior members of her cabinet and financier of her political party are implicated in what has become known as the cash-gate. The credibility of President Banda has been questioned following the cash-gate incidence and of course, she has couple of answers to provide to Malawians.

The 2014 Malawi elections would feature the candidature of incumbent President, Joyce Banda, Peter Mutharika, Atupele Muluzi and Lazarus Chakwela. Many Malawians now think that public purse is at the mercy of only those in power. Obviously, the choice of electorates are limited, but for the sake of the rural poor, 2014 might produce something spectacular. Again, whoever wins would have to fix the government and bring back some form of credibility.

Elsewhere in West Africa, Presidential and Parliamentary elections will be held in Guinea-Bissau on March 16, 2014, postponed from November 24, 2013, after a military coup cancelled the 2012 elections. The country was just some weeks away from a presidential runoff vote when a military coup took place in April 2012. No leader in this West African nation in nearly 40 years of independence has finished his term in office. Interim President Manuel Sherifo Nhamadjo would therefore hold on to power until the elections are over.

Down South Africa, it will be the fifth election held under conditions of universal adult suffrage since the end of apartheid era in 1994. Elections will be held between April – July 2014 to elect a new National Assembly as well as new provincial legislatures in each province.

The African National Congress (ANC) led by President Jacob Zuma, were re-elected with increasing majorities in 1999 and 2004, but with a slight fall in its majority from 69% to 65% in 2009. More daunting to the ANC is the decision by Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the largest affiliate, in December, 2013, that will not endorse and support the ANC or any other political party.

Egyptians will experience one of the biggest elections which is much critically needed to consolidate the country after the uprising and the ousting of Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. The month for the election is not yet known, even though election will take place in 2014. Either a parliamentary election or a presidential election will be held first; one election must be held 1-3 months after the passage of the constitution; the following election will be held within 6 months of the ratification of the constitution.

Hamdeen Sabahi is the first Egyptian to declare his intentions to run for the office of president in 2014. He was a former presidential candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Ahmed Shafiq, who finished second in the 2012 presidential election, losing to Mohamed Morsi, has stated he will run if al-Sisi decides not to run for president.

Hopefully, Botswana would also face their eleventh 11th election in October 2014 that is according to Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Secretary Mr. Gabriel Seeletso has said.

In 2014, the right to vote in Africa will be only a fraction of liberal democracy: citizens also cherish the right to free speech, to a fair trial and to go about their lives with the minimum of government interference. It is highly evident that, African voters are still fed with a diet of deceitfulness, little prosperity; constitutional rules which preclude opposition from running as well as gerrymandering. Elections in 2014, could be those that people will vote, either with their foot or head. Whoever wins, will have to fix the economy and take government to the doorstep of the people. …telling the African story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Frimpong

Chartered Economist (ACCE-Global) writes on the macro-economy and global affairs. He is also an African Affairs Analyst and Emerging Markets Strategist.

Tel: +233 -241 229 548 Email: py.frimpong@yahoo.com/py.frimpong90@gmail.com