News / Africa

Experts Meet to Improve Elections Process in Africa

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station as soldiers watch in Bissau, April 13, 2014.
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station as soldiers watch in Bissau, April 13, 2014.
Election experts say 80 percent of voting results in African ballots are contested because of flaws in the democratic process. Experts recently gathered to make recommendations to improve the process.

African elections are prone to violence, corruption and manipulation. And experts say democratic systems need to be strengthened in order to make voting more free and fair on the continent.
 
At a conference in Yaounde, experts like Tambe Tiku Christopher - with Cameroon's National Electoral Commission - says prime examples of flaws can be found in the ethnic violence that surrounded Kenya’s vote in 2007, post-election violence on the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011 and political instability when the losing presidential candidate refused to concede following elections in Ivory Coast three years ago.   
 
"The system of elections we have been organizing in Africa is not working, that is why you find more than 80 percent of the elections being disputed. You find people say elections were manipulated, elections were rigged," he said. "This has become a preponderant situation which we have to deal with."
 
Mpho Mothoagae, from the University of South Africa, says countries often push elections as a way to fast track democratic credentials - but it doesn’t work unless the institutions which are the foundation of democracy are in place. He notes recent election campaigns have actually produced the opposite result: military coups - such as in Mali and Guinea-Bissau in 2012.
 
"Africa should learn from the spring revolution in the North - the African people and the African masses are looking forward to credible governments, to governments that are elected by the people for the people," Mothoagae said. "More and more of the African masses are looking forward to leaders who are going to be elected in a way that best reflects their lives and their areas of development."
 
Common elements in free elections, experts note, include an independent media, judiciary, a non-politicized military, free flow of information for an informed citizenry, and transparency.
 
Mothoagae notes it is not just fragile democracies that need better election processes but dictatorial regimes are at risk due to mass discontent.
 
"One cannot allow a situation like that one in Zimbabwe, like that one where a person for over three or four decades actually continues to be a ruler," Mothoagae said. "That the ruling party continues to be dominant without any further development in the
peoples democracy."
 
Zimbabwe has held several elections - the most recent in 2013. But Western and international rights groups note that the ruling party under President Robert Mugabe uses pervasive voter intimidation, violence, vote-rigging and doesn’t allow transparent monitoring.  
 
But experts agree there are homegrown bright spots on the continent that can serve as models for all of Africa.

South African-born Kealeboga Maphunye, research chair in Electoral Democracy at the University of South Africa, notes many of those are in southern Africa - but not all.
 
"The idea is to make sure that you look at best practices from countries such as South Africa, such as Namibia, even Botswana to some extent," said Maphunye. "Even Senegal has been cited in some instances until recently, where elections are eventually able to ensure that there is a stable government and the idea is not to dwell on the negative tendencies. Those are learning moments.”
 
Experts note that South Africa, Namibia and Senegal have comparatively stronger independent electoral commissions established by their constitutions which make them less prone to manipulation.
 
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems - which assists emerging and developing democracies organize credible voting - also notes that public perception of the election process is a key factor. Often that means election preparations are carried out in an ordered manner, from training poll workers, drafting election laws, inclusive voter registration, procuring and distributing election materials and having a timetable for all this including announcing the results in a transparent manner.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs