Editor: Denis Kadima
Managing Editor: Heather Acott
Contributors: Nicole Stremlau, Nathan Dobson, Martin Oswald, Aden Dejene Tolla, Alvaro Oliver Royo, Hamdi I. Abdulahi, Hyden Munene, Rosemary Chilufya, John Bwalya, Hellen Venganai, Charles Dube, Sharon Adetutu Omotoso, David Uchenna Enweremadu, Kelvin Ashindorbe, Nathaniel Danjibo.
Key terms: internet shutdowns; media and elections; information controls; mis/ disinformation; censorship; African elections, COVID-19, democracy, election, electoral participation, voter turnout, Uganda, EPRDF, Ethiopia, Oromo, protest, securitisation, TPLF, elections, Somaliland, democracy, Africa, political parties, clan politics, electoral management, voter registration, political party funding, media collaboration, validating election results, electoral conflict prevention, Zimbabwe; young people; politics; female political candidates, gender mainstreaming, women in politics, Nigeria's 2019 elections, political party, elections, democratisation, consolidation, regression, Nigeria
Nicole Stremlau is head of the programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford and research professor, School of Communications, University of Johannesburg
Nathan Dobson is a lecturer at the University of Birmingham
ABSTRACT: Internet shutdowns in Africa are becoming increasingly widespread, particularly when governments face competitive or contentious elections. They have also come to symbolise a widening fracture between competing conceptions of the global Internet and its regulation. Governments in Africa are justifying shutdowns as able address misinformation and disinformation, protect the election process, and ensure national security. International organisations, NGOs, and social networking platforms condemn these as an inadmissible form of censorship and information control, an abuse by political actors seeking to silence critics or manipulate elections. This article offers an alternative reading on internet shutdowns by placing them in the historical context of the wide range of information controls around elections, many of which are widely regarded as being acceptable and legitimate mechanisms to support competitive elections. By offering this context, we can ask what is new about shutdowns and whether they can ever be regarded as a proportionate response to real concerns of social media and election manipulation. We conclude by highlighting the inequalities of online content moderation as an often-overlooked factor in driving the use of shutdowns, and the failure of social media companies to effectively address misinformation and disinformation in Africa, particularly around elections.
Martin Oswald is a PhD student in the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa (IDCPPA) at the University of Cape Town
ABSTRACT: The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on political dynamics, as it did on other aspects of human life. The outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 almost brought the world to a standstill. This was mainly due to pandemic mitigation measures put in place, including social distancing. These actions greatly affected all levels of human interaction – politically, socially, and economically. Politically, it meant minimal or no electoral activities, no local or international face-to-face meetings, and the abuse of power. The restrictions saw elections postponed indefinitely in some countries, rescheduled or delayed in others, or held with minimal interaction elsewhere. Uganda is one of the few African countries that went ahead with holding elections in 2021 amid the pandemic. The study sought to examine and contribute to the broader understanding of the effects of COVID-19 on electoral participation by analysing available literature, Uganda's electoral laws and reports, and Afrobarometer survey data collected in Uganda before and during the pandemic. The focus was on individual-level predictors of voting intentions by Ugandans: demographic, political, social, and economic. Descriptive and inferential analyses were performed on citizens' likelihood of voting. The results demonstrate that party affiliation/identification and ethnic/regional identity are the strongest predictors of the likelihood of voting during the pandemic.
Aden Dejene Tolla is a researcher at UNISA's College of Law
Alvaro Oliver Royo has a master's degree in international conflict studies from the War Studies Department at King's College London and is an independent consultant in international development and politics.
ABSTRACT: This article explores why the Oromo protests have transformed the Ethiopian political landscape since demonstrators took the streets in November 2015. It also examines the relationship between the two pillars of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), ethnic federalism and developmentalism, and the Oromo protests. The study aims to illustrate the connection between the Ethiopian state's fundamental strategies and the capacity of popular movements to bring about political change. The study has used a qualitative research approach with both primary and secondary data. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted and recorded with a voice recorder, and data was analysed through thematic analysis. The findings of the research show, first, that the securitisation of development strategy performed by the EPRDF triggered the protests. And second, that the primordial understanding of ethnicity, as defined in the Constitution, contributed to the articulation of the Oromo protests as a movement. The study concludes that the Oromo protests will pave the way for reform because they reflect the regime's failures and also represent the demands of the larger part of Ethiopian society.
Hamdi I. Abdulahi is a visiting lecturer at the University of Hargeisa, and a development professional who has recently completed his PhD research on Somaliland's plural justice system
ABSTRACT: After declaring its independence from Somalia in 1991, Somaliland has built a system to deliver basic services to its citizens. Despite having relativelygood security, Somaliland has to date received no international recognition. With the presidential term extension made by the House of Elders (the Guurti) in October 2022, politics in Somaliland is at fever pitch. Public demonstrations, sporadic clashes, mass arrests, and hate speech add to a general sense of political disorder. Several factors have shaped the current outlook for democracy in Somaliland, including clan politics, a rent-seeking mentality, and weak institutional and legal frameworks. This study seeks to emphasise the contentious way in which elections have been held in Somaliland, and which have led to a loss of confidence in the country. The results, as witnessed in the 2017 presidential election, led to disputes, massprotests, and loss of life. Election time in Somaliland has therefore been a cause of concern for both political parties and the Somaliland Election Commission. In the battle for political leadership, the pre- and post-electoral aftermath has become conventional. But the main victim of the battle for political leadership has been the Somaliland Election Commission which is torn between contesting political parties.
Hyden Munene is a research fellow at the Dag Hammarskjold Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Copperbelt University, Kitwe
Rosemary Chiufya is the acting director for the Dag Hammarskjold Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Copperbelt University, Kitwe
John Bwalya is a professor at the Dag Hammarskjold Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Copperbelt University, Kitwe
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to establish whether there had been an improvement in the governance of electoral processes in Zambia, in tandem with democratic principles, between 1991 and 2011. The study used interview material and secondary data on election administration activities gathered from Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) documents on electoral laws and regulations, as well as election monitors and observers' reports. The investigation was centred on five core election administration activities, namely voter registration, monitoring funding of political parties, collaborating with the media, validating election results, and electoral conflict prevention and management. The article utilised the democratic governance theory and principles embedded in the principles for election management, monitoring and observation (PEMMO) to examine the performance of the ECZ in these five core election administration activities during the period under consideration. Based on the democratic gauge, the study found that the performance of the ECZ in election administration was worse between 1991 and 2006 but significant improvements were attained from 2006 to 2011. Subsequently, in 2016, the Constitution of Zambia was amended and the electoral laws were repealed and replaced.
Hellen Venganai is a lecturer in the Faculty of Social and Gender Transformative Sciences, Women's University in Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe
Charles Dube is a research fellow in the Department of Anthropology, University of the Free State
ABSTRACT: In view of the low levels of women's representation in political office in Zimbabwe after the 2018 elections, questions arise regarding whether young people can, or will support female candidates in future elections. The youth is seen as a critical group that may shape the future of politics in Zimbabwe. We conducted a qualitative study to explore the views young people have of female political candidates, through focus group discussions and in.depth interviews with participants aged between 19 and 24 in the city of Masvingo. Drawing on social constructionism, poststructuralist feminism, and intersectionality analyses, the study found that young people in urban Masvingo have a predominantly negative perception of female candidates, although this is mediated by factors such as gender, class, sexuality, disability, and education. Nonetheless, some of the youth in Masvingo appear to be redefining or countering gendered societal norms and values, as they appear to accept women as political candidates.
Sharon Adetutu Omotoso is a senior research fellow in the Gender Studies Programme and head of the Women's Research and Documentation Centre (WORDOC), Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
David Uchenna Enweremadu is a senior lecturer in Public Policy and Administration, Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan
ABSTRACT: The year 1999 marked a watershed moment in the political history of Nigeria with the transition from military to civilian rule and the beginning of the Fourth Republic. Two decades later, the country has not only witnessed the longest period of civilian democratic rule but has also achieved a milestone with the alternation of power between the two dominant political parties. The augury, however, points to a democracy oscillating between consolidation and regression. This paper therefore interrogates two decades of democratisation in Nigeria in the context of the two main parties, the conduct of elections, and the level of representation of marginalised groups, particularly women. The paper contends that while it may be uncharitable to discount the incremental gains since the return to civil rule, the country is far from attaining the status of a consolidated democracy.
Kelvin Ashindorbe is a lecturer in the Department of Communication and General Studies, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State
Nathaniel Danjibo is senior research fellow at the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan
ABSTRACT: Nigeria's politics have been accused of gender imbalance since independence, and scholarship is replete with discussions of factors responsible for the low level of women's participation and representation in politics, and women's poor showing in electoral contests. Most studies of women's political participation in Nigeria have taken a unidirectional approach of analysing or discussing women's marginalisation in both appointive and elective offices.This study replaces the unidirectional approach with a multidirectional and multistakeholder analysis of the gender mainstreaming effort in Nigeria's 2019 general election. With a focus on Kano and Oyo states, we argue that increased gender consciousness has not translated to any significant improvement in women's representation in politics, thus implying that mainstreaming gender is of no effect if women's participation in politics does not translate to a substantial representation of women in both number and influence.