Articles on Democracy in Africa

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Malawi faces the biggest overhaul in its electoral system since the 1990s. Shutterstock

Malawi’s plans for major electoral reform are way overdue

The proposed change to Malawi's electoral system is straightforward and makes logical sense. Yet it's more complex and if adopted would revolutionise local politics.
Julius Malema and his fellow opposition EFF MPs being bundled out of parliament for disrupting President Jacob Zuma’s speech. Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

Why opposition parties in southern Africa struggle to win power

Opposition parties in sub-Saharan Africa struggle to prove themselves worthy to skeptical voters who, unlike in Western competitive systems, don't trust them over former liberation movements.
People cheer as Senegalese troops arrive to take charge of security at the presidential palace in Banjul, The Gambia. EPA/Legnan Koula

What the rest of Africa can learn from The Gambia’s transition to democracy

The adoption of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance five years ago raised hopes for a new democratic Africa. But its ideals remain elusive for many parts of the continent.
A protest against President Joseph Kabila. The poster reads: “Kabila must leave without any conditions”. Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Africa faces a new threat to democracy: the ‘constitutional coup’

Attempts to deepen democracy in Africa by limiting presidential terms to two have not entirely quashed a culture of entitlement to rule. Glimpses of it persist, much against citizens' wishes.
Members of the Ecowas force at the Denton Bridge check point in Banjul, The Gambia, following Yahya Jammeh’s departure. Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon

How West Africa built the muscle to rout dictators and keep the peace

Regional power Ecowas, which has just seen off yet another dictator in Yahya Jammeh, started off with a tame agenda 42 years ago. But it was soon shaped by civil wars, military coups and despots
Presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Muhammadu Buhari, Macky Sall and former Ghanian President John Mahama at a special meeting of Ecowas on The Gambia. Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

What southern Africa can learn from west Africa about dealing with despots

SADC's credibility is at stake. Its lack of political will in acting decisively against despots is at odds with the African Union's goal of promoting legitimate governance on the continent.
The Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh is under pressure from regional leaders to cede power. Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon

How The Gambia is testing West Africa’s resolve to protect democracy

The Gambian election dispute is not the first that ECOWAS has confronted. Côte d’Ivoire’s 2010 presidential election is a case in point. There it resorted to military action to enforce the outcome.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma (left), who is also the president of the governing ANC, and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa’s ANC can only be salvaged by leadership of epic ethical proportions

After two decades of political dominance, the electoral performance of the ANC is at its lowest since it became the governing party of South Africa in 1994. But is the party really unraveling?
Supporters of president-elect Adama Barrow celebrate his victory in Banjul, the Gambia. Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon

The Gambia keeps dream of deepening democracy in Africa alive

A peaceful transition in the Gambia, taken together with hints of change in Angola and Zimbabwe, will portend hope that Africa’s democratic renewal is still alive.
US President-elect Donald Trump has displayed behaviour that will resonate with autocrats in Africa. William Philpott/Reuters

Trump’s leadership traits are bad news for democrats in Africa

Besides worries that Donald Trump might not make Africa a priority of his presidency, his temperament and views bode ill for democracy on the continent.
Demands to recall South African President Jacob Zuma reached a climax at the governing ANC’s national executive meeting. EPA/Kim Ludbrook

A new centre of power through mass mobilisation is needed in South Africa

There are early signs of the emergence of a third force for good in South Africa in the likes of the Save SA movement and Socio-Economic Future of South Africa convened by the Archbishop of Cape Town.
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.

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