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Africa on the political ropes


The imperative of finding cheaper but credible electoral solutions

By Richard Mammah


Africa is on the political ropes at the moment and it has to climb down. Too many elections being held in the continent are heating up the polity and indeed obstructing real growth and sustainable development.

The continent needs simpler and cheaper, but yet credible electoral systems and processes and it should get them now.

In West Africa for example, Liberia is not the richest nation in the world but in the past one month the only business in the country has simply been ‘the elections!’
And with yesterday’s court ruling, this fixation may continue for another one or two months as the country perhaps goes through the motions of fresh voting and the almost inevitable second ballot that has been their lot in the post-Taylor years.
Over to East Africa, and notably in Kenya, the political stalemate over the boycotted re-run presidential contest is also costing businesses enormous losses and continuing to eat away at the soul of the nation. 

Even South Africa, natural leader of the Southern African region is not exempt from this choking hold as about the only discussion going on there now has to do ‘who succeeds Jacob Zuma as leader of the ANC at the December Conference!’

In the midst of all of this however, two elections were able to pass off as marginal successes this year. They were those of Rwanda and Angola. However, a deeper look at the inside variables will show that part of the reason for their smooth sail may indeed reside in the fact that both states are virtual one-party states! So there were really no contests!

Our political scientists must give us fresh answers!


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