News / Africa

    Africa’s Many Elections Reap Few Rewards

    World-renowned Senegalese singer Youssou Ndour announced that he was running for president against incumbent Abdoulaye Wade in February 26 elections, (File).
    World-renowned Senegalese singer Youssou Ndour announced that he was running for president against incumbent Abdoulaye Wade in February 26 elections, (File).

    Much like in 2011, there will be many elections across sub-Saharan Africa in 2012, including presidential polls now scheduled in Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Mali, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and possibly Zimbabwe. Oil-rich Angola is working on setting up legislative elections, with the leader of the winning party becoming president.  Some analysts say they believe these elections often reap few rewards for voters.

    The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Supreme Court recently confirmed results in the last of many presidential elections in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011.  The high court rejected opposition complaints of widespread fraud, and confirmed the victory of incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

    Kabila has been in power since taking over after his father’s assassination in 2001, promising to modernize and rebuild the mineral-rich country after years of corruption and conflict.

    But development experts, human rights activists and corruption watchdogs believe little is changing in the DRC, even though Kabila has had an elected mandate since 2006.

    Leonard Wantchekon is the founding director of the Benin-based Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy.

    “Elections in itself are great, having several political alternatives to choose from, different parties to choose from, that is great,” he said.

    But he says there are concerns across Africa that democratic progress is not leading to enough social change.

    “The disappointment is that it is not clear whether holding more elections improves education outcome, health outcome, whether the countries are better governed and whether there is less corruption, actually, now there is more corruption than there used to be,” Wantchekon stated.

    Other presidential elections in 2011 took place in Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, the Gambia, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, the Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia. Also, a 2010 presidential poll in Ivory Coast finally came to a bloody resolution last year after months of unrest.

    Gnaka Lagoke, who runs the widely read African Diplomacy website, is another analyst who is both hopeful but also concerned with all these elections. “It is good to see that even though there are wars and people are fighting over elections, at least it is good to notice it is vibrant and the African masses are practicing freedom. But we still see the West is doing everything possible to control those elections,” he said.

    Lagoke alleges that Western governments and non-governmental organizations apply different types of pressure to get what he calls the good for business-as-usual candidate elected or re-elected, such as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won a new mandate last year.

    “They have several methods. In the case of Liberia, for instance, when they give a Nobel Peace Prize to a candidate [2011 re-elected President Sirleaf], a sitting president, it boosts the popularity in the country, that is one way," said Lagoke. "The second thing we can say is that all of those observers who go to Africa, the non-governmental organizations, all of them, they will say in chorus the elections were fair because the West has decided a particular candidate they favor is supposed to be the leader."

    Lagoke says that what he calls the business-as-usual leaders retain military and economic arrangements suitable to Western interests and existing African political elites. He says even when Western powers and donor nations criticize an election, they do nothing to change the situation, beyond a promise to push for progress in future elections.

    Western embassies repeatedly deny interfering in African elections. Election winners in Africa often respond that those who complain about elections are being sore losers, looking for any excuse to justify a defeat at the polls.

    These debates, accusations and even violent clashes between political camps are very likely in 2012, with high-stakes elections being held across the continent.

    An early contest will be next month, with popular singer Youssou N'Dour now joining many other opposition candidates trying to defeat the incumbent octogenarian leader Abdoulaye Wade in Senegal's February 26 presidential poll.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.