Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni salutes during an inauguration ceremony for his sixth term at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala, Uganda on May 12, 2021. Museveni, in power since 1986, was declared the winner of the January 14, 2021 elections with 58.6% of the vote. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nicholas Bamulanzeki)
Some major elections are looming in Africa in 2021. While the Ethiopian legislative elections, which have just been postponed again, remain shrouded in uncertainty, votes in Chad, Zambia, Gambia and Nigeria are on the horizon .
Andrew Firm is one of the authors of CIVICUS State of Civil Society Report 2021. CIVICUS is a global alliance of over 10,000 civil society organizations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world.
Elections should give citizens the opportunity to make demands of their political leaders, to debate alternatives and to express their disagreement. People should go to the polls believing their votes will count and their voices will be heard, and if Presidents turn out to be corrupt, interested and unwilling to listen, they should be able to overthrow them. Every effort must be made to ensure that the next elections live up to these standards.
While a look back at the recent history of elections in Africa offers little reason for optimism, there have been some bright spots.
In Malawi in 2020, the civil society campaign led to the relaunch of the elections, overturning the flawed initial vote result, while the Seychelles saw an unprecedented peaceful change of government. But too often elections have failed to give citizens a real voice. Time and time again, erroneous elections have only confirmed the permanent power of the incumbents.
In Uganda in January, President Yoweri Museveni’s sixth term as President was secured, in the face of a challenge from the charismatic foreigner Bobi Wine, by repeated violent attacks and the criminalization of Wine and other opposition leaders, with voting taking place in an atmosphere of military intimidation and amid a nationwide Internet shutdown.
The situation was much the same in Tanzania in October, although the change at the top brought about by the death of President John Magufuli in February may offer hope for the repression to be reversed. For the authoritarian power, the pandemic has provided yet another opportunity to limit international election monitoring, which has been largely blocked in countries like Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.
In country after country in West Africa, political change just wasn’t on the ballots. The Gnassingbé family dynasty, which has held power since the 1960s, continued To go, while in Benign President Patrice Talon so effectively eliminated political competition that at one point it appeared that no one would be eligible to run against him; a few symbolic hopeless candidates have been allowed to cross the net to offer the slightest semblance of political competition.
Time and time again, sitting presidents have redesigned constitutions to their own advantage, erasing term limits that should have offered control over unhindered power. same Ivory Coast President Alassane Dramane Ouattara did it, an about-face on a promise not to stand up. Guinea Octogenarian President Alpha Condé followed suit, rewriting the constitution before winning a third term in an election marked by deadly violence.
Condé, at 83, was not the only president in the late years to refuse retirement: Ouattara is 79 and Museveni 76. And yet, Africa is a continent renowned for its youth. Time and again, African elections have refused to meet the demands of young people – for education, jobs and services – and instead have widened the gap between the aspirations of young people and the mindset of leaders. national.
Resolute Resistance to Advance Democracy
In the face of these challenges, many civil society and opposition activists across the continent have offered resolute resistance and worked to defend democracy. And hope continues to emanate from many young Africans. As formal elections do not guarantee a real arena to voice their disagreement, young people are forging their own path, taking to the streets in large numbers to demand change.
A new report, the State of Civil Society 2021, through the Global Civil Society Alliance, CIVICUS views mass protests as a proven way to advance change.
Globally, Chile is on the way to developing a radical new constitution that was the main demand of a mass protest movement that refused to back down. India’s intransigent government was forced to come to the negotiating table by a demonstration of determined farmers. Civil disobedience resists military rule in Myanmar.
Africa is not immune to the global wave of protests. In the past year alone, people have courageously taken to the streets to oppose corruption Zimbabwe, demand an end to police brutality in Nigeria and call for action against gender-based violence by Namibia. An astonishing 100,000 people marched against oil pollution in Mauritius last August. Every unfree and unfair election has seen people demonstrate to demand democracy.
Many of those who mobilized faced an unacceptable risk of violence. The #EndSARS protests in Nigeria grabbed international headlines, embarrassing the government as deadly violence erupted in October. Lekki Toll Massacre. Several deaths occurred when Ivorians protested against Ouattara’s “stealth coup”.
But the change has also come.
Namibia’s #ShutItAll down protests were met with brutality, but also allowed the presidency to recognize the problem of gender-based violence and commit to creating new courts and a sex offender registry.
The ban on female genital mutilation Sudan was a direct result of the strong involvement of women as leaders of the 2019 revolution that overthrew President Omar al-Bashir.
It is not only in Namibia and Sudan that women have been at the forefront of protests. All over the world and across Africa, mass movements are led by young people, including many young women. They mobilize hope.
Young people are not only the future of Africa, they are its present. They make change happen now whether disconnected leaders want it or not. Candidates in the next election would do well to listen. DM / MC
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This notice was published: 2021-05-25 19:56:16