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YEAR OF THE VOTER

Millions will stream to the polls around Africa in 2024

Millions will stream to the polls around Africa in 2024
More than one-third of the 54 nations of Africa are heading to the polls over the next 12 months to choose new presidents or new governments. (Photo: iStock)

More than a third of Africa’s 54 countries are holding elections this year to choose new presidents or new governments – but whether the millions of votes cast will lead to meaningful change remains to be seen.

At a global level, close to two billion people will be lining up in 2024 to cast their ballots – including nearly 900 million Indians in the world’s most populous democratic state.

Roughly half that number of people are also due to elect the first European Parliament since Brexit, while the Labour Party in the United Kingdom hopes to unseat the Tories by the end of the year.

Across the waters, 81-year-old Joe Biden is planning another shot at the top slot in the United States and (with some convenient constitutional amendments and opposition leader Alexei Navalny locked up for the next two decades) 71-year-old Vladimir Putin seems determined to cling to power until at least 2030 after the Russian presidential elections in March.

According to Time magazine: “2024 is not just an election year. It’s perhaps the election year. Globally, more voters than ever in history will head to the polls as at least 64 countries (plus the European Union) — representing a combined population of about 49% of the people in the world — are meant to hold national elections, the results of which, for many, will prove consequential for years to come.”

Closer to home, domestic attention will be fixed on South Africa’s seventh national democratic election – but at a continental level, elections are also scheduled in another 19 African nations.

The first round of voting starts in the tiny island state of the Comoros later this month and 2024’s elections will wrap up in Ghana (and possibly Mali) in December.

polls africa 2024

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (left) waves at cheering crowds during Ghana Independence Day celebrations in Kumasi, Ghana, on 6 March 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Christian Thompson)

After Kwame Nkrumah swept to power in 1960 with nearly 90% of the vote and was later declared “President for Life”, Ghana experienced a turbulent history after a 1966 coup, before its subsequent transition to multiparty democracy in 1992.

Further north, 78-year-old Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune appears to be preparing to run for a second term in the 2024 elections, if he can keep the support of the army.

Le Monde reports that Tebboune has been ruling without any real political opposition since the start of a crackdown on the Hirak (protest movement) in 2019 and that there is currently no one capable of challenging him.

polls 2024

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Vyacheslav Viktorov / Host Photo Agency / Ria Novosti / Sputnik

Late last year, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, stressed that the Algerian government must “address the climate of fear caused by a string of criminal charges against individuals, associations, trade unions and political parties under overly restrictive laws, including anti-terrorism legislation contrary to Algeria’s international human rights obligations.”

Much further to the south, further elections are also scheduled in Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Namibia.

Sadly, however, Zimbabweans will have to wait another five years until their next election. Since 1980, the country has endured just two leaders – Robert Mugabe and Emmerson “Crocodile” Mnangagwa.

polls africa 2024

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The latter leader, now aged 80, “won” more than 52% of the votes in the August 2023 elections, with 45-year-old opposition leader Nelson Chamisa reportedly scoring 44%.

Writing in a recent edition of the Journal of African Elections, Wits University analyst Roger Southall lamented: “Only starry-eyed optimists ever hoped that the 2023 election in Zimbabwe would bring about a significant change in how the country is ruled politically.

polls africa 2024

Africa elections calendar for 2024. Elections on the African continent have evolved considerably over the past 30 years, according to the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA). It says elections have grown from largely one-party systems to being characterised by multiparty systems. (Image: EISA)

“From 2008 onwards, when President Robert Mugabe survived a challenge presented by Morgan Tsvangirai only by orchestrating a brutal crackdown on his rival’s supporters in a run-off in the presidential election, Zimbabwean elections have lost any shred of credibility.

“The electoral playing field is systematically stacked against challengers to the ruling Zanu-PF, as those confronting the ruling party are faced by partisan electoral authorities, a battery of laws inhibiting opposition, restrictions on the media, the deployment of violence against opposition supporters, and so on… 

“In short, electoral outcomes are largely predetermined in Zanu-PF’s favour, notwithstanding the bravery of those who continue to challenge the party,” Southall said.

“Yet hope still lingers. Hope that one day some unforeseen set of circumstances will open the door to meaningful political change.” DM

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  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Fikile ‘fix fokol’ Mbalula congratulated ZANU-PF on winning an obviously rigged poll. We all know he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but it’s damning that he was allowed to get away with it.

  • James Webster says:

    They’ll stream to the polls, vote in autocrats and dictators, glorify their self destructive cultures, flee the countries they destroy with either their repeated selection of corrupt leaders or psychopathic Islam, force themselves on western countries they constantly criticise and who don’t want them, then start the cycle all over again by refusing to assimilate, rioting and trying to impose the insane dictates of their violent faith on their adopted homelands. They then wonder why the west no longer wants them ascribing it all to racism. Sigh !

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