The road to democracy has many obstacles. Opposition parties in Africa have made progress in contesting elections, even if conditions remain far from equal. But even when opposition parties can win elections, one big hurdle remains.
We can all see the problem in Zimbabwe. Even if the Movement for Democratic Change can claim, convincingly, that it has won the elections, the ruling power just refuses to allow a peaceful transition. We all witnessed the situation in Kenya and the violence that ensued following the manipulation of election results, which ultimately allowed the ruling party to cling on to the lion’s share of power.
The situation which has been made evident in Zimbabwe and Kenya can occur in most countries in Africa which today have succeeded in establishing the right to multi-party elections. The articles in this issue depict a picture of the struggle of opposition parties from the Seychelles, Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire for free and fair elections and a peaceful transition of power; and highlight the threat to democracy when cronyism and corruption become entrenched in the state business, as the case from South Africa illustrates.
Africa Network Officer
• Of Referendum and CCM: The Frog’s Kiss That Will Kill Muafaka
• Defining Procedures for Peaceful Transition. A Requirement of Multi-Party Democracy
• The Presidential Elections in Cote d’Ivoire and the Kenya/Zimbabwe Syndrome
• The Criminalisation of the State in South Africa
• South Africa’s DA Welcomes ALN Interns
• ALN Holds Workshop on Party Structure and Management, Maputo, Mozambique
• ALN Members Attend Liberal International Human Rights Forum, Taipei, Taiwan
• ALN at the Liberal International Congress, Belfast, May 2008
Of Referendum and CCM: The Frog’s Kiss That Will Kill Muafaka
Ismail Jussa, Head of International Relations
Civic United Front, Tanzania
The decision by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to reject the power sharing agreement that was jointly negotiated by its team and that of the Civic United Front (CUF) is to say the least frustrating and disappointing.
It was an anti-climax of more than two years of tiring and exhausting work to find a lasting peace for the islands of Zanzibar which have been beleaguered with a political stand-off since the re-introduction of multi-party system in 1992.
A free and fair election in Zanzibar is an important and critical step in the democratisation process of Tanzania as a whole because in Zanzibar, CUF – a democratic opposition – has won the past three elections and can win the coming elections. It is a litmus test of whether CCM is committed to the democratisation process or it is simply playacting in a process to hoodwink the international community, donor governments and their electorate that Tanzania is part of the expanding democratic community of nations and deserves their financial support.
In 2001 Zanzibar experienced bloodshed perpetrated by government security forces that was proportionately larger than what has taken place in Kenya recently. Zanzibar and Tanzania as a whole deserves better. Prevention is better than cure. Let us all strive to help Tanzania forestall another catastrophe in Africa.
Click here to find out more
Defining Procedures for Peaceful Transition. A Requirement of Multi-Party Democracy
Roger Mancienne,Secretary General
Seychelles National Party
Since the return to a pluralistic political system in 1993, the Seychelles National Party (SNP) has campaigned hard and consistently for fair conditions for elections. It has made considerable progress – in particular in improving access to state-funded media and limiting the involvement of the security forces in election campaigns. There remains, however, the big issue of the use of state power and resources for election campaigning purposes.
Apart from the question of fairness in the electoral process, the issue of transfer of power remains an unknown. In 2006, the SNP had a very real chance of winning the Presidential elections and we are convinced we would have done so if the ruling party had not used state resources on a massive scale to influence voters. In the event, the SNP emerged with 46% of the popular vote.
One of the factors that worked against the SNP in that election is that some voters, especially older people, were afraid of what would happen if the SNP won. There was fear that the armed forces would not respect the results and would prevent a transition. There was also fear that the ruling party would not co-operate in allowing a peaceful transition and that the government of the country would be thrown into turmoil.
All these fears stem from one thing : the total absence of an accepted protocol for the transfer of power. Where would the ruling party leave the key to State House in the event that they were called to vacate? This is an issue that the ruling party has refused to address because maintaining the uncertainty confers a distinct advantage. In the face of the uncertainty, many people prefer not to contemplate the risk of change at all.
Click here to find out more
The Presidential Elections in Cote d’Ivoire and the Kenya/Zimbabwe Syndrome
Yaya Fanta Kaba Fofana, President of the Technical Commission for Culture and Tourism
Rassemblement Des Republicains, Cote D’Ivoire
The latest announcement that the presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire will be held on the 30th of November this year, has been met with little hope and a lot of skepticism.
Kaba Fofana gives an overview of the political stalemate in Cote D’Ivoire and considers the questions of whether it is fair to say that the conditions for free and fair elections have been met and whether Cote D’Ivoire could be spared the fate of kenya and Zimbabwe.
To read the full article in French, please click below.
Click here to find out more
The Criminalisation of the State in South Africa
Helen Zille, Party Leader
Democratic Alliance, South Africa
There is a thesis that African states fail because corruption ceases to become an aberration that needs to be rooted out. It becomes institutionalised in the system itself. It becomes business as usual.
In such states, politics has nothing to do with a struggle over ideas or even a struggle between ethnic, racial or religious groups. It is about gaining access to the state and, once there, using it for personal enrichment and ensuring that those who helped put you there are sufficiently enriched to help you stay there. Likewise, race and ethnicity are cynically manipulated to mobilise voters to keep you in power.
It is a process that starts with the centralisation of power in a small ruling clique, who deploy their cronies into all key positions, to entrench and protect their interests. Once in power, they move to colonise the mechanisms intended to hold power to account. Without checks and balances on power, corruption becomes inevitable.
Centralisation, cronyism and corruption soon culminate in the full-blown criminalisation of the state.
Click here to find out more
South Africa’s DA Welcomes ALN Interns
As part of an ALN initiative to enhance learning and exchanges between member parties, the Democratic Alliance in South Africa recently received Herinandrinanina Andrinananjamanantsoa from MFM Madagascar and Thomas Mongi from CUF Tanzania who took part in a two-week internship. This follows a previous internship which took place in October 2007 with interns from Mozambique and the Seychelles.
The internship, organised and supervised by Gareth Morgan MP, was made up of a series of structured interactions with key role players in the DA’s parliamentary operation and at its National Headquarters. The interns were also invited to observe a number of regular meetings which allowed them to see the DA at work, met with a few MPs including the Chief Whip and the Leader of the Opposition, attended portfolio committee meetings, and had the opportunity to observe oral question time and various debates at the National Assembly. These meetings were backed up by explorations in a key focus area for each of the interns.
The internship provided an excellent opportunity for the participants to gain new ideas approaches and techniques which they said they were keen to implement within their own parties.
ALN Holds Workshop on Party Structure and Management, Maputo, Mozambique
The ALN held a workshop on party structure and management, in Maputo Mozambique, 20-22nd of February. The workshop, hosted by ALN member the Party for Democracy and Development (PDD) and attended by 27 ALN delegates, aimed to boost understanding about the importance of building a party structure that responds to the needs and objectives of the individual party. Themes covered during the workshop included looking at the structure of the party headquarters, the role of members, campaigning, policy and communications.
Following the workshop, the ALN delegates were invited to meet with Mozambique’s president Armando Guebuza.
ALN Members Attend Liberal International Human Rights Forum, Taipei, Taiwan
Ismail Jussa of CUF, Tanzania and Roger Mancienne of SNP, Seychelles represented ALN as speakers at the Liberal International Human Rights Forum which took place in Taipei, 7-9 December 2007. Mr Jussa drew on the previous and current history of Zanzibar to discuss the issue of human trafficking in Tanzania while Mr Mancienne gave an overview of the ALN, its mission and activities. The forum was hosted by the Democratic Progressive Party and centred on the theme of human trafficking.
The event presented an excellent opportunity for both delegates to forge links with other liberals from around the world, and to consider possible ways of fostering cooperation between the ALN and other regional networks.
ALN at the Liberal International Congress, Belfast, May 2008
The Africa Liberal Network will be holding its General Assembly, 15 May 2008, on the fringes of the LI Congress in Belfast. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal will be one of the speakers at the official opening of the Congress. DA leader, Helen Zille, will be presenting one of the major theme papers. DRC’s ANADER will be presenting a report during the Human Rights Committee meeting on the issue of child soldiers in the DRC. Other presentations will be made by Pr. Ibrahim Lipumba, CUF National Chairman, and Wavel Ramkalawan, SNP leader, during a session on the threats of climate change to poverty alleviation and economic growth in Africa and strategies to promote adaptation in the most vulnerable countries. An ALN motion on Climate Change Adaptation will be submitted to the LI Congress. To view the motion, please click on the following link