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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora