Editor: Khabele Matlosa
Contributors: Shumbana Karume, Wole Olaleye, A Carl Levan, Titi Pitso, Bodunrin Adebo, Kaniye S A Ebeku, Luís de Brito, Roddy Fox and Roger Southall, Geoffrey Hawker.
Key terms: Factional Intrigues, Alliance Politics, NARC, Kenya, 2002, General, Election, Legitimising, Electoral Process, System, Domestic Observation, Nigeria, Charm, Election Tribunals, Resolve, Disputes, 2003, Conflict, Mozambique, Change, Voters, Lesotho, Missing Cadres, List Voting, ANC, Parliamentarians, National Assembly, 1999-2003, Reviews, Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa, One Woman One Vote, Gender Politics, Security, Regional Dimension.
Shumbana Karume is a Research Fellow at the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA), with research interests in democracy and elections, regional economic integration and other issues that cover good governance and democracy in the SADC region.
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS: Kenya's 2002 elections were politically momentous. The new government, made up of coalition forces, has not only paved the way for a new political dispensation that analysts anticipate will set off Kenya's much needed economic and political reconstruction (Barkan 2003), but most importantly it provides some important lessons for the study of coalition formations in politics. For one, it demonstrated to opposition parties elsewhere in Africa what can be achieved by standing together.
The formation of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) was not a new phenomenon in Kenyan politics. A look at the country's political history reveals a pattern of political coalitions over the years, made up not only of selected individuals co-opted by then President Daniel arap Moi to serve in his administration, but of political parties uniting for private interests. The formation of NARC, however, is more than short-term political manoeuvring, it was an unprecedented assembly of most of the main opposition parties, with the intention of ousting the Kenya African National Union (KANU) once and for all. As a result, an investigation of both its formation and governing performance six months after the elections seems opportune.
Wole Olaleye is a Research Fellow at the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA)
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS: The past two decades have seen a movement in Africa from authoritarian regimes toward popular democracy through electoral rule. Local and international election observation is now a common practice in almost all elections that take place on the continent. Elections must be free, fair and meaningful and must be perceived to give legitimacy to the incumbent government.
It has been suggested by various analysts and commentators that Africa, and groups within the democratic polity, should accept as a crucial component of the continental democratisation process the important role of domestic election observation in ensuring electoral legitimacy, fairness, and popular acceptance of election result (Abbink, 2000; Von Cranenburgh, 2000; Mair 1999). Implicit in this statement are several assumptions about domestic observer groups: that they are non-partisan and are experienced in the conduct of election observation; that they operate within an acceptable code of conduct; that they have a clearly defined notion and understanding of 'free and fair elections' and that they have the necessary technical and administrative capacity to observe the entire election process (before, during and after). If this proposition is to be acceptable as a political canon in a democratisation project on the continent it is vital that it be subjected to critical scrutiny and empirical verification. In this context K-DOP has played a legitimising role in helping foster democracy at a very sensitive and delicate trajectory in Kenya's political history, resulting from the changed nature of partisan competition, particularly at a time when there were high hopes for regime change.
A Carl LeVan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego
Titi Pitso is Elections Consultant at the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, South Africa
Bodunrin Adebo is Program Officer of the National Democratic Institute
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS: The April 2003 elections in Nigeria, the first civilian administered elections to take place in two decades, were hailed as the largest in African history and are surely a major milestone for both the country and the continent. Although they were marred by serious irregularities they were historic - instead of a military coup, a civilian government was to be succeeded by another civilian government.
President Olusegun Obasanjo won with 62 per cent of the vote, and his party scored huge victories in the National Assembly and the State Assembly elections. In the face of predictions of violence, Nigerians defied the odds and went to the polls peacefully in most parts of the country. Turnout was high, and there also appeared to be a respectable geographic spread of the winning party's base of support. But these encouraging facts and other optimistic assessments of the elections offer only superficial portraits of an outcome that remains far more uncertain.
Kaniye S A Ebeku LLM (LSE, London), PhD (Kent, England) is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, Faculty of Law, Rivers State University of Science & Technology
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS: Between April and May 2003 Nigeria held general elections to elect the country's President, state governors, and members of legislative houses at both national and state levels. The first election, held on 12 April 2003, was for National Assembly (the federal legislative house) members. This was followed by the presidential and governorship elections on 19 April 2003. Two dates - 26 and 29 April 2003 - were set aside for possible run-off elections (which did not happen). The last election, on 3 May 2003, was for members of the state houses of assembly (INEC 2003). In all, 30 political parties contested the election, although not all the parties fielded candidates for all the political offices.
Remarkably, the 2003 elections were the first since the return to constitutionalrule on 29 May 1999, after many years of military dictatorship. As will be seen below, many observers and commentators (both national and international) have condemned the elections for what some have called massive electoral frauds and malpractices. It was alleged that in many places in the country there was virtually no voting, yet 'results' were declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) - a statutory body charged with the conduct of the elections...
Dr Luís de Brito is Associate Professor of Political Anthropology at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS: The idea of representative multiparty democracy is a dominant feature of the processes of political transition in many African countries today. This assigns an important role to the electoral system within the political framework of the continent. The electoral system can either enhance or hinder the development of the political system. In the first instance, it contributes to the peaceful and institutionalised resolution of political conflicts, thereby promoting social stability and development. In the second instance, it reinforces contentious factors that can result in forms of violent conflict. In reality, whatever the electoral system, it is always more than a simple, technical and neutral instrument designed to produce the political representation of society. As the product of the history of the struggles of the opposing political forces and the interests of a country, the electoral system - given its practical purposes - plays a director's role in the configuration of both the political arena and its main actors, the parties.
The Mozambican electoral system, as defined by the 1990 Constitution and the 1992 General Peace Accord (GPA), was able successfully to serve the initial transitional process from a one-party society at war to a multiparty democracy. However, the system has exhibited some deficiencies with regard to the consolidation and strengthening of the democratisation process. The political and electoral reality of the country, following two general elections and considering the deep-seated mistrust that still exists between Frelimo and Renamo, shows that it would be advisable to pursue a reform of the electoral system so that it does not become an obstacle to the stability of Mozambique's political system.
Roddy Fox is Professor of Geography, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140 South Africa.
Roger Southall is Executive Director, Human Sciences Research Council
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS: On 25 May 2002 voters in the small Southern African kingdom of Lesotho went to the polls in the third general election since the country returned to democracy after a long period of civilian dictatorship (1970-86) and military rule (1986-93). Although voting in all Lesotho's general elections has usually gone smoothly, in every case prior to 2002 the results have been challenged, with varying degrees of severity, by the losing parties (Weisfelder 1999, pp 109-32).
This occurred most notably in 1970, when the ruling Basotho National Party (BNP) lost the election but overrode the result; and subsequently in 1998, when the BNP - now in opposition - had been at the core of an alliance of electoral losers who, in the months that followed and enjoying the quiet support of the security forces, so paralysed the capital that a powerless government felt constrained to call for external assistance to restore order. The result was military intervention by South Africa and Botswana (acting on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)); the restoration of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) to power; and an extended period when, backed by South African muscle, long overdue reforms of the military and police were matched by difficult negotiations among the various political parties concerning the adoption of a new electoral system. The eventual outcome was the decision to move Lesotho away from the plurality (first-past-the-post) system inherited from Britain at independence (and which in 1993 and 1998 had provided highly imbalanced results favouring the winning party) towards a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system.
Geoffrey Hawker is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS: The party list system of voting can give a dominant party undue influence over its parliamentary members, critics say, instancing the practices of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa's National Assembly. The party has defended its use of the system and the 'redeployments' it permits as necessary to its program of reconstruction; claiming a right to use scarce human resources, including parliamentarians, in new positions as circumstances change.
Since 1999 the Assembly has seen high rates of turnover and deployments of varying character, and the evidence suggests that the management of its parliamentary members challenges the capacity of the ANC. Lines of gender and provincial representation structure the party's choices, raising issues of representation and accountability. A review of the careers of the sixty members who ceased to be members of the Assembly after the election of 1999 shows that the list system is only one factor to be considered in assessing the internal democracy of the ANC and its policies in Parliament and in government.
Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa, Edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, Electoral Institute of Southern Africa
One Woman, One Vote: The Gender Politics of South African Elections, Edited by G Fick, S Meintjes and M Simons, Electoral Institute of Southern Africa
Security and Politics in South Africa: The Regional Dimension, By Peter Vale, UCT Press; Lynne Rienner Publishers