Year of the Power Grab: Africa Sees Three to Notch Elections in 2022
2021 has been a volatile year for African democracy, with many violent incidents happening. Ranging from protests in Swaziland to Zambians demanding an end to the absolute monarchy and a military coup in Sudan that undercut the political transition, everything was an absolute mess.
However, there is still hope as we look forward to three critical elections in the continent that will provide an important bellwether for democracy in Africa.
Elections in Angola, Kenya, and Senegal are crucial to restoring peace and democracy in the continent long-stalled by undemocratic practices.
These political transitions expect many challenges, as violence and riots pushed by the economic crisis resulting from COVID-19 continue to batter the continent.
Senegal Mayoral Elections: Time to Bring Local Bodies to Justice
Senegal will be holding its mayoral election on January 23rd, which has significance for many reasons.
Almost all of the incumbent mayors of 550 municipalities of the country belong to the Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) party coalition of President Macky Sall and have been in power since 2014.
Legally, their term ended in 2019, but they continue to hold office, pushing the country toward political turmoil.
These local elections are being termed by many as a referendum for Sall’s presidency. He has been trying to manipulate the constitution in his favor, creating an environment that will help him seize the office for the third time despite growing hatred among the public.
The election will also decide the fate of the country’s capital city Dakar, which holds nearly a quarter of the whole population and contributes 55 % to the GDP of Senegal.
Due to disenchantment among the youth of the country toward corruption and the inability of the incumbent regime, opposition candidate Barthélémy Dias is likely to defeat the government candidate Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, who is also serving as the current Health Minister.
Lastly, the elections are important because they will either retain the trust of the general public in the National Autonomous Electoral Commission, or people will become completely hopeless with the notions of fairness in the election. This answer will also decide the pathway for the forthcoming legislative elections to be held later this year.
Angola Elections: Country Rich in Natural Resources Faces Extreme Challenges
The second great test of the African democracy comes with Angola’s presidential election.
These 2022 elections will give the people of Angola another chance to rid the country of the autocratic rule of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which has been in power for more than four decades.
A newly formed coalition of the opposition parties under the leadership of Costa Junior of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) called the United Patriotic Front to look forward to defeating MPLA and also ridding the country of the corruption and mismanagement that has been surging ever since MPLA came into power.
The economy of the country is defined by corruption, nepotism, and its dependence on oil and diamonds.
Despite being a country rich in oil, the people of Angola still suffer from poverty because those in power are involved in money laundering and care about nothing else than building their business empires.
The MPLA government is trying its best to win this election with political manipulation and abuse of power, as they have no chance of winning in a free and fair election.
Kenya Elections: The Biggest Political Game of 2022
Last but not least, Kenya’s upcoming election is being defined as the clash of titans, as two major parties will be facing each other in August to grab the center of power of the country.
Kenya’s presidential race is expected to be one of the most intensely watched contests, given the history of violence and close races.
Raila Odinga, the primary opposition candidate, has launched his election bid for the August 2022 election after losing four times.
The Orange Democratic Party of Odinga has now become a sizeable Kenyan alliance, as many other political leaders have joined him to overthrow the incumbent president.
The complex patronage network plays a very significant role in the outcome of the Kenyan elections, and thus Odinga has been patronizing the wealthy business owners and financers since his defeat in 2018.
On the other side, the wealthiest man in Kenya. Deputy President William Ruto. has quit the ruling Jubilee Party of President Uhuru Kenyatta and formed his political party to contest in the election.
It seems that Kenya’s presidential election has become a money game, where the person with the most money and business financiers backing will win.
People of the country have serious concerns over the fairness of the electoral procedure and believe that the upcoming election will also be manipulated by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The representatives of Senegal, Angola, and Kenya participated in the Democracy Summit organized by the Biden Administration in December of 2021.
The United States donated nearly $424.4 million as an initiative to renew the institutions, particularly electoral bodies, to organize free and fair elections in African nations.
After all, the free and fair electoral process is the backbone of democracy, and without the fairness of this process, democracy is nothing more than an excuse that autocrats use to stay in power.
The fairness of the process is essential for dissuading citizens in Africa from participating in violence, which has been a defining characteristic of politics in the region.