August 2, 2021

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in Africa, usually posted on Mondays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, the largest city in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, which saw unrest during July 2021. South Africa is due to hold local elections this year. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Durbs03 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Zambia General Elections: August 12, 2021

Zambia has scheduled general elections for August 12, 2021. Zambia used to be a model democracy in the region, with regular, competitive elections and a vibrant civil society. However, under Edgar Lungu, elected in 2015 to complete the term of Michael Sata (who died in office), Zambia began to regress toward authoritarianism. The 2016 elections were  marred by political violence and allegations of vote-rigging but ultimately judged credible. However, there are fears that Lungu could try to rig the 2021 elections. More

Taonga Clifford Mitimingi and Patrick McHale, Bloomberg (August 1, 2021): Zambian President Deploys Army to Quell Violence Before Vote

Peter Fabricius, Daily Maverick (August 1, 2021): Cellular signals: Dismay over possibility of internet blackout during Zambia’s August general election

Committee to Protect Journalists (July 30, 2021): Zambian opposition supporters assault reporter from state media

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (July 29, 2021): Warning Signs Appear Ahead of Zambian Elections

South Africa Local Elections: October 27, 2021 (delay possible)

South Africa will hold local elections on October 27, 2021, although a delay is possible. Voters will elect councils for all municipalities in each of the country’s nine provinces. These are taking place in the wake of unrest following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma for corruption. Riots in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July 2021 left more than three hundred dead and led to thousands of arrests – the worst political violence South Africa has seen since the end of Apartheid. More

Elliot Smith, CNBC (August 2, 2021): South Africa unrest and Covid measures are starting to derail its economic recovery

Siphiwe Dube, News24 South Africa (August 1, 2021): South Africa needs to revisit the emergence of black conservatism

Ian Jennings, National Interest (August 1, 2021): South Africa’s Insurrection Is Greater Than Jacob Zuma

Alan Shaw-Krivosh, Foreign Brief (July 31, 2021): South African voter registration weekend postponed

Moeletsi Mbeki, The Africa Report (July 29, 2021): How South Africa’s elites are stunting the economy and democracy

Nigeria, Anambra State Gubernatorial Election: November 6, 2021, followed by several state elections in 2022, and general elections in 2023

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, holds general elections in February 2023, but some states are due to hold elections before that, including Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city and economic hub.

In addition, potential 2023 candidates have already begun jockeying for position. Since the return to civilian rule, vote-rigging and violence have plagued elections. While the 2015 polls – which handed the opposition its first-ever victory – were considered credible, international and Nigerian observers found that the 2019 polls fell short. The country is in the midst of several security crises.

Rinu Oduala, Freedom House (August 1, 2021): Nigeria: Young voices demand change

Matthew T. Page, Carnegie Endowment (July 28, 2021): Fake Civil Society: The Rise of Pro-Government NGOs in Nigeria

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 27, 2022 (following two coups)

Mali has set presidential and legislative elections for February 27, 2022, following the August 2020 coup. In the coup, soldiers removed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, dissolved parliament (which had just been elected in April, in elections marred by fraud and intimidation) and established a transitional government. Before that, there will be a constitutional referendum on October 31, 2021 and local and regional elections on December 26.

On May 25, Mali had another coup, but leaders have stated that the elections will remain on the calendar for 2022. However, the situation remains fluid.

Africanews (July 31, 2021): Malian PM Choguel Kokalla Maïga presents 2021-2022 action plan

Reuters (July 30, 2021): Mali’s interim government has elections plan in light of ‘fixed timeline’ for transition: PM

Kenya General Elections: August 9, 2022

Kenya is due to hold general elections on August 9, 2022. The last elections, in August 2017, were disputed, and the presidential poll was re-run in October 2017. President Uhuru Kenyatta won re-election after opposition leader Raila Odinga encouraged his supporters to boycott the re-run. Kenyan politics is highly polarized with a strong ethnic component.

Sunguta West, Jamestown Foundation (July 30, 2021): U.S. Troops to Combat al-Shabaab in Kenya Amid Mandera County’s Security Crisis

Chad General Elections: Between June and September 2022 (proposed, post-coup)

Chad held a presidential election on April 11, 2021. President Idriss Déby, who seized power in a rebellion in 1990, won a sixth term. However, on April 20, he was killed by rebels.

Although the country holds elections, there has never been a change in power by a free or fair vote. Long-delayed long-delayed parliamentary elections had been set for October 24, 2021 and local elections for April 2022. Originally due in 2015, the legislative elections have been delayed multiple times. However, Deby’s death could lead to further delays. The junta has promised to hold the elections soon, proposing between June and September 2022. More

Nadia Chahed, Andalou Agency (July 31 2021 – in French): Chad: Calendar for transition unveiled

AFP (July 29, 2021): Several Hundred Protest Chad Junta

South Sudan Elections: December 2022 (planned)

South Sudan plans to hold elections in December 2022, the first since independence in 2011. Salva Kiir had been president of the semi-autonomous region while it was still part of Sudan, and he remained in office following independence. The legislature’s mandate expired in 2015 (it had been elected in 2010, before independence), and has been extended several times. Additional election delays are possible.

Jake Wheeler, Washington Post (July 29, 2021): Opinion: Ten years after independence, South Sudan must return to Garang’s vision

Zimbabwe General Elections: July 2023 (due)

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections in 2023. These will be the second since the 2017 coup that led to the fall of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longtime dictator, who left a legacy of gross economic mismanagement and political repression. However, democracy continues to face many challenges in Zimbabwe.

Dewa Mavhinga, Human Rights Watch (August 2, 2021): Still No Justice for Zimbabwe’s 2018 Post-Election Violence

Eswatini Parliamentary Elections: August 2023 (due)

Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is an absolute monarchy. The country does hold parliamentary elections, but the parliament does not actually have much power, and the elections are tightly controlled, without much choice for voters. In late June, a series of pro-democracy protests began, and they continue to date.

Peter Fabricius, Daily Maverick (July 29, 2021): Royal crackdown: European Union condemns arrest of two Eswatini MPs as government hunts for the third

Cebelihle Mbuyisa, The Guardian (July 26, 2021 – video): The last king of Eswatini? Reporting on protests in Africa’s last absolute monarchy

Past Africa Elections

Ethiopia General Elections: June 21, 2021

Ethiopia held general elections on June 21, 2021, after several postponements. These elections took place in the context of increasing ethnic violence that has reached crisis levels. More

Arminka Helić, Politico (August 2, 2021): In Ethiopia, echoes of Yugoslavia: We’ve seen this story before. This time we should make sure it has a different ending.

Côte d’Ivoire Parliamentary Elections: March 6, 2021 and Presidential Election: October 31, 2021

Côte d’Ivoire just completed a major election cycle that began in turbulent fashion when incumbent president Alasanne Ouattara sought and won a controversial third term. The opposition boycotted the presidential election. Protests followed, as well as arrests of opposition members.

However, during the March parliamentary elections, the situation calmed down a bit. Following discussions and the release of some opposition figures, the opposition participated in the legislative elections. 

Former president Laurent Gbagbo cast a long shadow over the recent election cycle. He had been tried by the International Criminal Court following violence surrounding his refusal to accept his loss of the 2010 election. Gbagbo was ultimately acquitted, but an appeal against the acquittal kept him in Belgium until this year. He has now returned home. More

France24 (July 28, 2021 – video): As rivals Ouattara & Gbagbo meet, is Ivory Coast on a path towards reconciliation?

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Sao Tome and Principe Presidential Runoff: August 8, 2021

Zambia Presidential, Legislative, and Local Elections: August 12, 2021

Somalia Indirect Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 10, 2021

Cabo Verde Presidential Election: October 17, 2021

South Africa Local Elections: October 27, 2021

Nigeria, Anambra State Gubernatorial Election: November 6, 2021

Gambia Presidential Election: December 4, 2021

Angola Local Elections: Overdue, might possibly happen in 2021

Senegal Local Elections: January 31, 2021

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 27, 2022 (following coup)

Gambia Parliamentary Elections: April 2022 (due)

Burkina Faso Local Elections: May 2022 (due)

Lesotho Parliamentary Elections: June 2022 (due)

Republic of Congo Legislative Elections: July 2022 (due)

Senegal Legislative Elections: July 2022 (due)

Kenya Presidential and Legislative Elections: August 9, 2022

Angola Legislative Elections: August 2022 (due)

Sao Tome and Principe Parliamentary Elections: October 2022 (due)

Equatorial Guinea Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.

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