Southern Africa's liberation movements have been losing popularity and confronting a crisis of legitimacy.
Not all African leaders are willing to be swept by the democratic reforms of the early 2000s.
Too often developments in one country are seen in isolation. In southern Africa events in one affect others in the region.
Are we witnessing the end of an era in which dictators stayed in power for decades? If so this must be good not only for Angola and Zimbabwe but for southern Africa as a whole.
The outcome of the race between increasingly artful electoral manipulation and limitless possible manifestations of democratic expression is never entirely certain.
Angola's recent election results showed the ruling MPLA losing support across the country. If opposition claims are to be taken seriously, the losses could be more severe than they appear.
Angola's president-elect, João Lourenço, has a reputation for relative probity. But, he's unlikely to rock the boat as Eduardo dos Santos remains party chairman.
Health care systems in many African countries are very poor. Instead of fixing them, many African leaders seek medical attention abroad incurring huge bills which are ultimately paid by taxpayers.
Democracy is in a parlous state in many countries in southern Africa. Autocrats hold onto power, while electorates have little to choose from at the polls.
It's hard to award a prize to esteemed former leaders when so many are determined to die in office.
It is important to nurture local companies and increase domestic participation in Africa's emerging oil economies.
It is normal for resistance movements to adopt rough survival strategies and techniques while fighting an oppressive regime. Unfortunately that culture takes root and is permanently nurtured.
Angola's Dos Santos is buying time. His promise to step down is an attempt to diffuse growing political tensions, as repression continues. He might relinquish his position, but not his power.