Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

How well can African elections work?

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By the standards of other recent African elections, the aftermath of Angola’s parliamentary ballot at the weekend has been fairly tame.

But polling station chaos that led to an extra day of voting and accusations of cheating from the opposition badly undermined Angola’s hope that the ballot would set a example for the continent after elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

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The picture of organisational confusion and cries of foul at Angola’s first election in 16 years, the first since the end of its civil war, were all too familiar in Africa.

It is now almost two decades since African states, facing popular calls for change and under donor pressure, started to adopt multiparty democracy.

Angola votes

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UNITA leader votes in Angola******Angola’s last election led to the resumption of civil war that took another decade to end and cost countless lives.******This time the atmosphere  around the election is very different, despite some initial problems at voting stations – scores failed to open on time in Luanda, which could lead to an extension of voting.******The ruling MPLA won the war in 2002 when UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed. His former rebel group has now been transformed into a political party, but it is given little chance of electoral success and is unable to do much but complain the campaign has been unfair.******mesavoto2.jpg******Angola is one of the world’s fastest growing economies thanks to booming oil production – not that much of the wealth has trickled down to the two-thirds of Angolans who live on less than $2 a day.******The election is being touted by Angola’s government as a demonstration of how far the country has come from the civil war and an example in Africa after flawed elections elsewhere.******Angolan ruling MPLA party stand******But the MPLA’s electoral dominance meant the contest was very one-sided and there appears little chance of a dispute on the scale of those that led to the troubles in Kenya and Zimbabwe, where election results were close.******The election is undoubtedly a big step for Angola. How significant will it prove for Africa as a whole?

Is the balance shifting in Zimbabwe?

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Zimbabwe's President Mugabe arrives for the official opening of the Parliament in Harare

This week’s reopening of Zimbabwe’s parliament had been seen by many as a show of defiance by President Robert Mugabe against an opposition that has so far rejected terms of a power-sharing deal that appear more acceptable to the veteran leader and to at least some of his regional counterparts.

But it may not have gone quite to plan.

The election of the parliamentary speaker chosen by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) came in spite of efforts by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF to bring in the candidate of the breakaway MDC faction. Members of that faction appear to have sided with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai rather than their own party leadership.

Does the West still matter for Africa?

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First on Zimbabwe, now on Darfur, Western countries have lost out at the U.N. Security Council to African states backed by China and Russia.

A Western attempt to get sanctions imposed on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government flopped on July 11. Three weeks later, when it came to renewing the mandate of peacekeepers in Darfur, Western countries bowed to demands to include wording that made clear the council would be ready to freeze any International Criminal Court indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide. The United States abstained, but that made no difference to the vote.

Is Africa beginning to stand up to Mugabe?

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Nigeria is unhappy at Robert Mugabe’s continuing presidency in Zimbabwe.

The opinion of Africa’s most populous nation and its second biggest economy is hard to ignore, although some may observe Nigeria’s own presidential elections last year were not above reproach. “We express our strong displeasure at the process leading to the election and its outcome,” Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe told reporters, saying any negotiations over the future shape of Zimbabwe’s government should set the flawed election process to one side.

Robert Mugabe

A few hours earlier, Botswana had called on southern African nations to refuse to recognise Mugabe.

from Africa News blog:

Has Mugabe out-foxed the African Union?

It would be out of character for the African Union (AU) to order any tough sanctions against Zimbabwe's strongman President Robert Mugabe at its summit in Egypt on Monday. But has his swearing-in on Sunday for a new five-year term after a widely condemned election further narrowed the AU's latitude for action? Mugabe defied international calls to cancel a presidential election run-off and negotiate with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who defeated Mugabe in the first-round ballot on March 29 but fell short of an outright majority. Mugabe was the only candidate in the second round after Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic change pulled out because of widely reported government-backed violence and intimidation.

Mugabe was heading for the AU summit after Zimbabwe's electoral commission declared him the winner as expected. He was immediately inaugurated in Harare, extending his 28-year rule. This could force the AU to deal with him as the legitimate head of state of Zimbabwe, in the face of calls from the likes of South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu for the pan-African body not to recognise his election.  A defiant Mugabe vowed to confront his critics at the summit. The wily Mugabe invited Tsvangirai to the inauguration ceremony and pledged at the event to talk to the opposition to solve the country's political crisis. Tsvangirai rejected the invitation.

Should Tsvangirai abandon poll?

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rtx74fw.jpgIt’s decision time again for Morgan Tsvangirai. 

With violence spreading and African countries joining the ranks of those who say Zimbabwe’s election run-off cannot be fair, the opposition leader is considering whether to withdraw – which would leave President Robert Mugabe to continue his 28 year rule unchallenged.

Talk is still doing the rounds that South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki has been trying to get the sides to call off the election and form a national unity government, but progress seems limited at best. South Africa’s Star newspaper said Mugabe rejected the proposal.

What should Africa do about Zimbabwe?

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rtx6x6w.jpgWhen Kenya played Zimbabwe in last Saturday’s World Cup qualifying game, the chant of “Mugabe must go” echoed around the stadium from some 36,000 Kenyan fans as Zimbabwe’s football team came onto the pitch.

Africa’s leaders have tended to take a much less vocal approach to Zimbabwe’s crisis.

Zimbabwe: New Technologies in Fight for Democracy

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Ndesanjo Macha is Sub-Saharan Africa Editor of Global Voices, which monitors citizen media in the developing world. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content of this post — the views are the author’s alone.

In countries such as Zimbabwe where media and political freedom is extremely restricted, new technologies have become powerful tools for political campaigning, communication, advocacy and mobilisation. Bloggers and civic organisations have resorted to using new tools and applications such as Flickr, Facebook, SMS text messages, YouTube and mashups to fight for democracy, media freedom and good governance.

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