Articles on Democracy in Africa

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Côte d'Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara addresses a rally ahead of the referendum on a new constitution. The placard reads “yes to new Ivory Coast”. Luc Gnago/Reuters

Controversial constitutional referendum sparks distrust in Cote d'Ivoire

The proposed new constitution would allow Alassane Ouattara to remain as president. Opposition parties see this move as a constitutional “coup” that will also protect his allies.
Polls and elections are considered vital democratic tools – but there’s more to true democracy. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Genuine democracy involves more than just polling people

There are several different ways to approach democracy. Polls, elections and referenda all feature, but they're not the only way to deepen democracy.
The charred interior of the Gabon’s parliament after it was burned in post-election protests in Libreville. Edward McAllister/Reuters

African citizens have very low levels of trust in how elections are run

National electoral commissions are crucial in shaping public perceptions of how well democracy is working. Poor electoral management can enable fraud and produce political alienation.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is seen as having promoted economic growth at the expense of human rights. Ruben Sprich/Reuters

There is good as well as bad news about the state of governance in Africa

To improve, African countries need to find a balance between political and economic matters. This is where leadership becomes particularly important. But this is currently lacking on the continent.
President of Botswana Ian Khama. He leads a country that’s lost the shine created by his father Seretse Khama. EPA/Alejandro Ernesto

Botswana at 50: the end of an African success story?

For a global audience, the movie 'A United Kingdom' provides a topical account of race relations. The love story is also likely to revitalise the popular viewpoint of Botswana as a national success story.
The Democratic Alliance’s Herman Mashaba celebrates victory as Johannesburg’s new mayor after the ANC’s defeat. The Star/Boxer Ngwenya

Tumultuous times for South Africa as it enters the era of coalition politics

South Africa's watershed local elections have resulted in upsets for the ANC in key metropoles. But will the new, minority coalition regimes live up to their mandate of providing basic services?
South African President Jacob Zuma reacts during the official announcement of the municipal election results in Pretoria. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Message to white South African voters: Keep calm … and shut up!

Various commentators have wrongly over the last 22 years said that black people voted blindly for ANC governments. There's no better example why the academy needs a dramatic post-colonial overhaul.
Supporters of South Africa’s governing ANC during President Jacob Zuma’s election campaign in Pretoria. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Sharp-tongued South African voters give ruling ANC a stiff rebuke

For more than 20 years the ANC's electoral support has appeared unyielding to the obvious weaknesses of its performance in government. To fall below 60% is psychologically significant for the party.
Supporters of Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire outside the Harare Magistrates’ Court during his trial. Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s interregnum: new wine, old bottles?

The new forms of protest in Zimbabwe raise the possibility that the country's long-simmering crisis may have reached boiling point. The time could indeed be ripe for a unique form of politics.
Crowds cheer as Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe arrives to address the country’s Independence Day celebrations in Harare. Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

What Africa’s most newly independent states did with 22 years of freedom

Namibia's new elite has used "affirmative action" for self-enrichment, while the majority of the population remains excluded from its the wealth. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's socio-economic woes continue.
Riot police detain a supporter of Forum for Democratic Change, Uganda’s leading opposition party, as they break up a campaign procession. Reuters/James Akena

Heavy-handed police tactics raise concerns about democracy in Uganda

The heavy-handed tactics used by Uganda's authorities during the 2016 elections have raised questions about a return to an oppressive past.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the 2016 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. He has drawn flack for seeking a third term. Reuters/Ruben Sprich

Why Kagame’s bid to serve a third term makes sense for Rwanda

Unlike the third-term fever afflicting the Great Lakes region, Rwanda is not mired in corruption and stagnation. Rwandans were fearful and anxious about what might happen after 2017 without Kagame.
Members of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa, the country’s largest union, march to highlight high unemployment. Reuters/Rogan Ward

South Africans need to fight for change on the streets, and through the ballot

With the local government elections set to take place within the next seven months, it is worth considering what impact the recent upsurge in protests will have on the country's political future.

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