Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Ghana steps back from the brink

Photo
-

Ghana’s epic nail-biter of an election has finally ended with opposition leader John Atta Mills being declared the winner by the narrowest of margins: barely 40,000 votes out of 9 million, or less than 0.5 percent of votes from the past week’s run-off.

Virtually everybody was expecting a close race, but the contest got tighter and increasingly acrimonious as both rival camps sensed power was within their reach. As the vote went down to the wire, to be decided with delayed voting held in one final constituency on Jan 2, the ruling New National Party (NNP) announced a boycott and launched legal proceedings to postpone the poll and freeze the announcement of results
 
After a year that has seen electoral bloodshed in Kenya and Zimbabwe one analyst who has followed the vote closely warned that incidents of violence during the polls indicated Ghana “may be coming close to that abyss of no-return”.
 
Yet shortly after the Electoral Commission announced results on Saturday, Akufo-Addo conceded defeat, congratulated Mills and both candidates were stressing the need for cooperation and consensus between their two parties.

What a difference a few hours makes – although Whether they are able to make that promise a reality for the party rank and file caught up in the bitter rivalries of the past few months, only time will tell.
 
So what was all the fuss about? By the most alarming interpretations, Ghana has stepped back from the brink of chaos. Others say it was just healthy competition.
 
Some observers say the simple fact the country’s institutions, especially its Electoral Commission, were able to cope with such a tense, tight race and ensure both sides respected the results, is proof of the deep roots democracy has in Ghana. That is a point of pride for many Ghanaians aware of their country’s history as the first sub-Saharan colony to achieve independence and one of the first to adopt democratic politics under outspoken former coup-leader Jerry Rawlings, who appointed Mills as his vice-president in the 1990s.
 
So is the bitter wrangling between the two main parties a “slur on Ghana’s democratic credentials”, as one analyst put it? Or should the country be proud that even such a hard-fought election should end without widespread violence? Do the past month’s elections show Ghana’s democracy is alive and well, or expose its weaknesses? How does it compare with elections elsewhere in Africa? And, given many people say there is little difference between the manifestoes of the centre-right NPP and Mills’s centre-left National Democratic Congress (NDC), was the election worth the risk?

(Picture: Supporters of Mills of opposition NDC party celebrate their candidate’s win after elections in Accra. Luc Gnago / Reuters)

from Global News Journal:

Cheers for Africa’s new military ruler. For now.

Fifteen years ago this month, Guinea’s late ruler Lansana Conte made clear what form democracy would take under his rule.

We answered a summons to a late night news conference to hear the result of his first multiparty election, speeding through silent streets where armoured vehicles waited in the shadows. The interior minister announced that ballots from the east, the opposition’s stronghold, had been cancelled because of irregularities. Conte had therefore won 50.93 percent of the vote. There was no need for a run-off because he had an absolute majority.

from Global News Journal:

More power-sharing in Africa?

Kenya's power-sharing government was only born after weeks of election violence that killed 1,300 people. Zimbabwe's power sharing agreement is yet to bear fruit as southern Africa's former breadbasket crumbles into economic ruin.

So will power sharing in Central African Republic, where one of Africa's most forgotten conflicts has been simmering for more than half a decade, fare any better?

from Global News Journal:

Ghana’s elections: Dare Africa hope?

As Ghanaians get set to elect a new president and parliament on Sunday, there seems to be as much attention on what a new leader will mean for Ghana as on what message Ghana will send the world about the state of Africa today. After a dismal year with elections rigged or marred by violence in Kenya, Zimbabwe and most recently Nigeria, to name but a few, Africa could do with a pick-me-up.

Despite some wobbles and sporadic violence in northern Ghana where several people were killed in the early stages of the campaign, preparations for Sunday’s elections have gone relatively smoothly.

from Global News Journal:

Zimbabwe sinking fast

From a distance it is always hard to picture just how hard life is in Zimbabwe and to imagine how much worse it can get. For so long we have been writing about economic collapse, inflation statistics beyond comprehension, the fact that at least a quarter of the country has fled to seek work abroad and that life expectancy has tumbled.

Commentators have long spoken of the dangers of a possible ‘meltdown’. The signs of what that might look like have grown stronger this week.

from Global News Journal:

Drugs and guns in Guinea-Bissau

  

Members of Guinea-Bissau's unruly armed forces have blotted the military's record again with another attack against the country's political institutions. Early on Sunday, Nov. 23, renegade soldiers, their faces hooded, sprayed the Bissau residence of President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira with machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire. The president survived unhurt this latest apparent attempt to topple him.

 

But The attack underlined the fragility of the small, cashew nut-exporting West African nation, one of the poorest in the world and a former Portuguese colony which has suffered a history of bloody coups, mutinies and uprisings since it won independence in 1974 after a bush war led by Amilcar Cabral. The assault followed parliamentary elections on Nov. 16 which donors were hoping would restore stability and put in place a new government capable of resisting the serious threat posed by powerful Latin American cocaine-trafficking cartels who use Guinea-Bissau as a staging post to smuggle drugs to Europe.

How quickly can Zimbabweans expect economic change?

Photo
-

zimbabwe_talks_handshake.jpgFor Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people, the true meaning of the signing of a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC would be how quickly it leads to an improvement in their daily lives. An economic crisis that began in 1998 has turned the once prosperous Southern African country into a basket case economy with the world’s highest inflation at over 11 million percent. Millions of Zimbabwean’s who have fled across the borders to escape unemployment and severe shortages are waiting to see if the political deal will result in economic rebound paving the way for their return.

The agreement negotiated by South African President Thabo Mbeki provides for the sharing of power between veteran President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Tsvangirai takes on the new role of Prime Minister with extensive powers, with Mugabe’s 28-year hold on power significantly eroded.

Trust the ingenuity of the Zimbabwean people

Photo
-

tupy.jpgMarian L. Tupy, The Cato Institute 

All economies, no matter how decrepit, can be revived through good institutions and economic freedom. That said, it is impossible to predict how quickly the people of Zimbabwe will be able to enjoy a notable improvement in their standard of living.

Zimbabwe today is one of the least politically and economically free countries in the world. The speed of Zimbabwe’s social and economic recovery will depend on the speed and extent of reforms.

Recovery possible in three years

Photo
-

 makumbe.jpgJohn Makumbe, University of Zimbabwe

 The signing of an agreement between Robert Mugabe’s ZanuPF party and the two formations of the MDC marks the beginning of an exciting period in the political history of Zimbabwe. The national economy has been devastated by, inter alia, disastrous political and economic policies formulated and implemented by the Mugabe regime. Fortunately, most of the development and economic infrastructure still remains largely intact, and the Zimbabwean economy could recover from the current meltdown in a fairly short time.

Zimbabweans are reputed to be hard-working people. Although many highly skilled Zimbabweans have since left the country for greener pastures both in the region and further afield, the country still boasts a highly skilled labour force.

Back to Africa?

Photo
-

Members of Sierra Leone's U15 football team FC Johansen pose for a team photo in Freetown

Earlier this month, players in a Sierra Leonean football team were hailed as heroes when they returned from Sweden – because they all came home.

In the past, they might have been more likely to scarper and seek asylum while they had the chance.

  •