Africa This Week: August 16, 2021

August 16, 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.

Then-candidate Hakainde Hichilema casts his ballot in Zambia’s August 12 election, which he proceeded to win. Photo credit: Facebook/Hakainde Hichilema

Upcoming Africa Elections

Somalia Indirect Presidential Election: October 10, 2021 (preceded by indirect legislative elections in the preceding months) POSTPONED – no new date set

Somalia was supposed to hold an indirect presidential election on February 8, 2021, following indirect parliamentary elections in December 2020. However, the elections have been delayed, and the term of President Mohamed “Farmaajo” has expired, leaving Somalia in a political and constitutional crisis. In April 2021, Farmaajo sought to extend his term for two years, but parliament voted to reject the extension.

While the United States and the EU threatened sanctions, some analysts believed that the delay could pave the way for direct elections. However, critics dismiss this idea as a ruse to justify Farmaajo’s extension of his term. The parties reached a deal to hold the elections on October 10, 2021, but as is usually the case with Somalia, the date could change. More

Margaret Besheer, Voice of America (August 12, 2021): UN, AU Urge Somalia to Hold Elections Without Further Delay

Cabo Verde Presidential Election: October 17, 2021

Cabo Verde, a stable democracy with regular elections and peaceful transfers of power, holds a presdiential election on October 17, 2021, following parliamentary elections that took place on April 18, 2021. The incumbent center-right MpD won, defeating the socialist PAICV (which had run Cabo Verde as a one-party state until 1990, but MpD won a historic victory in 2016).

Cabo Verde’s strategic location in the Atlantic has made it the site of increasing geopolitical competition between the U.S., NATO, and the EU on one hand and China on the other. While PAICV advocates strong links with Beijing, and has a party-to-party relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, current PM Ulisses Correia e Silva from MpD advocates stronger links with NATO and the West. More

Alexsyane Silva and Giovana Fleck, Global Voices (August 10, 2021): Cape Verde: Presidential elections scheduled for October

South Africa Local Elections: October 27, 2021

South Africa will hold local elections on October 27, 2021. Voters will elect councils for all municipalities in each of the country’s nine provinces. These are taking place in the context of unrest following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma for corruption. More

Dirk Kotze, Moneyweb (August 11, 2021): To postpone, or not to postpone? Local elections hang in the balance

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.

Ayokunu Adedokun, The Conversation (August 11, 2021): Book review: Nigeria has democracy but not development. How to fix it

Angola Legislative Elections: August 2022 (due) and Local Elections: Overdue, no date set

Angola, which has never held free elections, and has been ruled by the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), a former armed group, since independence in 1976, is due to hold legislative elections in August 2022. In addition, the country is overdue to hold its first-ever local elections. These elections have already been delayed multiple times (most recently in September 2020), and no date has been set. Meanwhile, COVID-19 provides an excuse for additional delays. In short, it is unclear when – or whether – the local elections will actually happen.  More

Albano Agostinho Troco, The Conversation (August 11, 2021): Angola’s Constitution is under review: but a great deal has been left undone

Chad Elections: By December 2022 (tentative, 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 military has said it plans to rule the country for 18 months. More

Reuters (August 11, 2021): Chad invites armed groups to participate in national dialogue

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.

Al Jazeera (August 16, 2021 – podcast): A first-hand account of police brutality in Eswatini

Carien du Plessis, The Diplomat (August 10, 2021): Eswatini, Taiwan’s Last Partner in Africa: The relationship hinges on proudly democratic Taiwan befriending an absolute monarch. Will pro-democracy protests spell the end of King Mswati’s rule – and relations with Taipei?

Past Africa Elections

Zambia General Elections: August 12, 2021

Zambia held August 12, 2021 following a hotly-contested campaign between President Edgar Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema, the main opposition leader, who narrowly lost to Lungu in 2016. Ultimately, Hichilema won the presidential election in a landslide, restoring hope in Zambia’s democracy.

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. Similarly, this year, despite concerns about violence and the larger pre-election environment – as well as a social media shutdown on election day – observers judged the polls credible. Lungu initially took a page from Donald Trump’s playbook and alleged fraud, but ultimately conceded defeat

On the parliamentary front, results are still being tabulated. Prior to these elections, Lungu’s social democratic Patriotic Front held 89 of the 156 seats, while Hichilema’s liberal United Party for National Development (UPND) held 58, with the rest held by smaller parties and independents. More

Chris Mfula, Reuters (August 16, 2021): Zambian president Lungu concedes defeat after rival’s landslide win

Nicholas Bariyo, Wall Street Journal (August 16, 2021): Zambia’s Opposition Wins Surprise Landslide as Defaulting Economy Reels: Hakainde Hichilema is declared victor after campaign that observers say was skewed in President Edgar Lungu’s favor

Carien du Plessis, Daily Maverick (August 16, 2021): Hakainde Hichilema promises change and opportunities following his election as president after sixth attempt

Peter Clottey, Voice of America (August 12, 2021): Heavy Voter Turnout Reported for Zambia Presidential Election

Somaliland Parliamentary and Local Elections: May 31, 2021

Somaliland held its long-overdue parliamentary and local elections on May 31, 2021. The two main opposition parties, Waddani and UCID, together won more seats in parliament than the governing Kulmiye party. Waddani and UCID will team up to choose a parliament speaker and on local councils (where they also won). Somaliland is a presidential system, so there’s no PM. President Muse Bihi Abdi from Kulmiye remains head of state. But it is significant for democracy that the opposition won the “midterms.”

Somaliland has de facto but not internationally-recognized independence from Somalia, and has a much more developed democracy, with direct elections. More

Robert C. O’Brien, National Interest (August 13, 2021): China’s Worldwide Expansion Plan Stops in Somaliland

International Crisis Group (August 12, 2021): Building on Somaliland’s Successful Elections

Cameroon Municipal, Legislative, and Regional Elections: February 9, 2020 (delayed from October 2019)

Cameroon holds elections, but President Paul Biya, at age 85 the oldest ruler in Africa, has been in power since 1982, most recently winning re-election in 2018. Elections in the country, including the most recent, have been marred by accusations of ballot-stuffing and intimidation of the opposition. The opposition claims Maurice Kamto actually won the election, and opposition supports have staged a number of protests, which the government answered with a harsh crackdown and hundreds of arrests, including the arrest of Kamto himself.

Cameroon is in the midst of several other crises. Anglophone separatists seek to form a new country called Ambazonia. The government has accused them of terrorism. The crisis is currently deadlocked, with neither side willing to make concessions, leaving half a million people displaced.

Geoffrey York and Ndi Eugene Ndi, Globe and Mail (August 12, 2021): Arrest of influential tech entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong in Cameroon sparks global criticism

Regional Analysis

Jie Xi, Voice of America (August 14, 2021): Analysts: China Expanding Influence in Africa Via Telecom Network Deals

Ryan Lenora Brown, Christian Science Monitor (August 11, 2021): How COVID-19 restrictions on rallies are roiling elections in Africa

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Sao Tome and Principe Presidential Runoff: August 29, 2021 (Proposed – delayed from August 8)

Somalia Indirect Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 10, 2021 (Delayed – no new date set)

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)

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