Ramaphosa wins fo ANC, maybe for the last time

The African National Congress (ANC) will govern South Africa for another five years. But this sixth victory of the democratic era since 1994 was hard-won. For the first time in a national election its share of the vote dropped beneath 60% to come in at 57.5%. This means that it will have 19 fewer representatives in the 400-seat parliament. This suggests both a normalisation of South Africa’s electoral landscape and an increasingly competitive multi-party democracy.

By: Richard Calland, University of Cape Town

File 20190510 183077 10d4m8y.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Cyril Ramaphosa has led South Africa’s African National Congress to its sixth electoral victory. But he’s got his work cut out.
EPA-EFE/Yeshiel Panchia

On arrival at the national results centre in Pretoria on Thursday, with around 60% of the votes counted, the party’s chair Gwede Mantashe expressed his anxiety to me about the outcome: “We need 60%”, he said.

I responded by saying that the evidence suggested the ANC was heading for 57% or 58% and that this represented an upturn of their fortunes after the dramatic dip to 54% in the 2016 local government election. It was, I said, therefore a very good result. He appeared to accept my logic. Mantashe is a supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa and is currently the minister of mineral resources.

The pivotal issue for Election 2019 was whether the outcome would give Ramaphosa more political space within the ANC to drive his reform programme forward. Since he ousted Jacob Zuma from power in February 2018, having won a very tight race to succeed Zuma as leader of the ANC at its five-yearly national elective conference the previous December, Ramaphosa has begun to execute a complicated turnaround strategy.




Read more:
South Africa’s poll is more about battles in the ANC than between political parties


But the job is half done. So far he’s appointed several commissions of inquiry to expose the rot of what he called “nine lost years”. This paved the way for the appointment of competent, honest men and women to lead key state institutions such as the SA Revenue Service and the National Prosecuting Authority that had succumbed to the Zuma-enabled project of “state capture”.

Yet the Zuma faction within the ANC has not been vanquished and so Ramaphosa has had to drive with at least one eye on the rear-view mirror. His own party has been a drag factor. Would Election 2019 deliver a sufficiently big victory for Ramaphosa to shake them off?

The optimal outcome

Some have argued that were the ANC to win 60% or more in this election, it would have given the party a blank cheque for further larceny. But a below par score beneath 56% would have weakened Ramaphosa and provided ammunition for his opponents within the party to attack him and undermine reform plans. These include the much-needed unblundling of the state-owned power utility, Eskom, which represents a major risk factor for South Africa’s sluggish economy and its beleaguered public fiscus.

A 57% or 58% outcome for the ANC could arguably represent an ideal outcome for the country. The people would have reprimanded the party for its reprehensible conduct over the last decade and, as many of its leaders were conceding yesterday, its failures to deliver good public services. At the same time it would give Ramaphosa the opportunity to claim a victory and, thereby, the fresh mandate he needs.

This indeed appears to have been the outcome.

More popular than his party for the first time since Nelson Mandela in 1994, and more trusted than the leaders of the opposition, Ramaphosa can claim to have saved the ANC’s bacon.

How the opposition fared

Election 2019 was also a referendum on South Africa’s appetite for the sort of populist politics that has prospered around the world in recent years. The local version is Julius Malema and his militant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

The exponential growth that the party promised on its campaign trail has proved elusive. The six million young (18-29) people who chose not to register to vote certainly represent a potential untapped market for Malema, to build on the 1.5m or so who voted for the EFF this week. But for the time being South Africa has rejected a populist alternative in favour of more of the devil it knows.

The biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), had a very poor election. It lost votes from its right flank to the Freedom Front Plus – an Afrikaans party – and failed to gain them from the middle ground. As a result, overall it has stagnated. Its share of the vote overall may even drop – despite the fact that the conditions for challenging the ANC were so conducive.

Questions will inevitably be asked of the DA’s leader, Mmusi Maimane. Was he tough enough to cope with the existential ambivalence that undermined its ability to define a clear value proposition to the electorate?

The DA had hoped to add to its progress in the local elections in 2016 when, with the help of the EFF, it drove the ANC out of city hall government in Pretoria and Johannesburg. Both fall within the Gauteng province, South Africa’s economic hub. In the national poll the DA appears to have failed to prove its case in the region where the ANC looks set to hang onto its majority – albeit by its fingernails.

ANC decline

The ANC’s domination has been in decline since 2009. In four successive national and local government elections since Zuma entered office that year, the ANC’s share of the vote has fallen.

The party’s leaders know it, but find it hard to accept. As Mantashe moved on from my conversation he turned back for a second:

But we would still like 60% – it’s an ego thing.

The ANC’s ego may not have been stroked by South Africa’s electorate on this occasion. On the contrary, it has fired a shot across the bows of Nelson Mandela’s party. A quarter century after Mandela became South Africa’s first black, democratically elected President, the ANC’s hold on power has weakened. Now it must continue to cleanse the body politic of the contamination of the Zuma years.

Ramaphosa will need to use the victory to turn the reform platform he has built over the past year into a springboard for economic growth and job creation. Both are urgently needed.

Otherwise, the lesson of Election 2019 is clear: next time the electorate will say enough is enough and turn away from the ANC.

Richard Calland, Associate Professor in Public Law, University of Cape Town

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

SOURCE: The Conversation

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South Africa’s elections is more of between ANC members than other parties

South Africans are about to vote in the most competitive election they’ve had since democracy began in 1994. But, despite this, the poll will have far more impact on the factional battle within the governing African National Congress (ANC) than on the contest between it and other parties for control of government.

The election follows a decline in the ANC vote from just under 70% in 2004 to around 54% in 2016’s local elections. This seemed to signal that the ANC was no longer guaranteed re-election nationally and in most provinces. There has been much talk of the ANC vote sinking below 50%, forcing it to seek coalition partners if it wants to govern.

In Gauteng, the country’s economic heartland, the ANC won only 46% in the 2016 municipal elections and was forced into opposition in two metropolitan areas – Tshwane and Johannesburg. This happened because the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a breakaway from the ANC which espouses a more militant brand of African nationalism, agreed to support the country’s second biggest party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), even though they differ on just about everything. This raised the possibility that a similar arrangement this time will mean the ANC will no longer govern in Gauteng or nationally.

So, is South Africa about to see its first election in which national power changes hands? No. The ANC is almost certain to remain in government in all the eight provinces it controls, including Gauteng. This will leave the Western Cape, which the DA holds and is likely to retain despite claims that it is in trouble, as the only province in which the ANC is not in government.

This prediction is not based on opinion polls which, in this election, have continued their tradition of doing more to confuse than inform. One poll has the ANC at 61%. Another says it is on the cusp of losing its majority . The DA’s projected vote veers just as wildly. The only constant is claims that the EFF will improve although this is not what is happening in municipal by-elections, where its support remains largely unchanged.

So, the polls tell us little and there is a good argument for ignoring them. But they do have one use. They largely agree on what won’t happen: the ANC won’t lose power.

Why the ANC is sitting pretty

Predicting that the ANC will remain in government outside the Western Cape is based on political common sense.

Talk of the ANC dropping below 50% often ignores the reality that, just about everywhere, the opposition is far behind it. The nearest an opposition party comes to challenging it outside the Western Cape is in Gauteng where the DA won 37% in 2016. Elsewhere, the nearest opposition party trails by 30 percentage points or more. The only way the ANC could be removed from government is by another deal between the DA and EFF.

But EFF leader Julius Malema has said that it will not make a deal with the DA and is more likely to look to a coalition with the ANC. What politicians say about coalitions cannot always be taken seriously and later Malema said the EFF would consider a coalition with the DA or ANC if they agreed to improve conditions in the townships where black poor people live.

But a DA-EFF coalition seems impossible, whatever Malema says now. For one thing their positions on land, a core EFF concern, are diametrically opposed. This does not matter in local government, which does not decide on land policy. It would matter hugely in national government and to a degree in the provinces.

If there is no DA-EFF deal, the only way the ANC can lose its hold on government anywhere is if either party wins a majority or at least enough to allow them to govern with small parties. But in Gauteng, no poll puts the DA above 38% – its numbers elsewhere are much weaker. In North West province, the ANC’s weakest outside Gauteng and Western Cape, the EFF is the second biggest party and it won only 16% in 2016. No poll has the EFF vote improving by more than eight percentage points.

ANC factions

Nationally and outside the Western Cape, then, two results are possible: the ANC wins a majority or is by far the biggest party and the only one able to form a coalition.

The reality which predictions of a change in government ignore -– the absence of another party which could defeat the ANC – means that, even if the ANC does as badly as one poll says it will, it will still be the party of government just about everywhere.

But, while the election will not change the government, it may change the balance between the two factions which compete for power within the ANC. One supports President Cyril Ramaphosa; the other backed former president Jacob Zuma.

The Zuma faction is still strongly represented in ANC decision-making forums. The battle between the two factions continues and the difference between them is often greater than that between the ANC and parts of the opposition. It is impossible to make sense of anything the ANC does without knowing which faction was behind it.

Ramaphosa was elected in 2017 because key ANC figures, most notably current deputy president David Mabuza, believed the ANC could not win this election if it was led by the Zuma faction. Ramaphosa’s credibility with some ANC power brokers depends, therefore, on showing that he can stem the ANC’s decline at the polls.

If the ANC improves on its 2016 vote, Ramaphosa will have presided over the first increase in its vote for 15 years. This will greatly improve his chances of winning re-election as ANC president at its next conference in 2022 because it will signal to ANC politicians that he can deliver more seats.

Because many South Africans are excluded from the benefits of the market, seats in municipal councils and legislatures are often the only ticket into the middle-class. So, an ANC gain in this election is certain to strengthen Ramaphosa now and in 2022 by showing that his leadership offers more opportunities to ANC politicians.

Even if it matches the last result or comes close, ANC power brokers could decide that Ramaphosa saved them from the opposition benches.

If the ANC drops to near 50%, whether Ramaphosa would be at risk of losing in 2022 would depend on whether ANC delegates could be persuaded to blame Zuma and his supporters. That is hardly assured. What is clear is that, the worse the ANC does, the better the Zuma group’s chances are of removing Ramaphosa at the national conference in 2022.

The two factions have very different approaches to governing and so the battle between them affects the country’s future. It is this battle, not that between the parties, which will be shaped by the election result.


This article was updated to reflect the correct date for when the ANC could remove Ramaphosa, if they chose to do so.

Race still overshadow South African politics 25 years after end of apartheid

It would be surprising if race played no part in South African elections.

The country’s colonial and apartheid past ranked alongside the America’s Deep South as among the most racist social orders in the world. If religious polarisation is also considered, South Africa often compared with Northern Ireland and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The slogan “rainbow nation” seems to have retired along with Anglican archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu. Personal racist incidents still make the headlines and class remains hued by colour at the structural level. Although slightly over half of the country’s middle class is now black, deep poverty is an almost exclusively a black experience.

Race continues to divide. Take just the best-known parties among the four dozen contesting the country’s general election this month. They all represent radically different perspectives on the race issue. And – at the extremes – there is no crossing the colour line.

For example, almost no black Africans will vote for the minority Freedom Front Plus. Almost no whites will vote for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the third-largest party. Strident racial rhetoric from some EFF leaders. And its election manifesto envisages for massive tax rises, a proviso that’s alienated white voters. For its part, the Freedom Front Plus’s campaign to defend minorities against affirmative action and black economic empowerment doesn’t attract many black voters.

But, when moving towards the leading parties of the centre, the governing African National Congress (ANC), and the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), are making serious efforts to reign in racial rhetoric among their leaders and members. They also have manifestos that promote non-racialism.

Non-racialism

The ANC and DA documents and speeches have repeated their long-held goals of non-racialism. Both try to ensure that people of all colours are represented in their executive structures.

Recently, ANC veterans condemned a statement by their powerful secretary-general urging a vote against “whites” and for “blacks”. And the party’s election campaign, particularly in Gauteng and the Western Cape, chooses issues and rhetoric which include white voters.

The DA too has more than once disciplined leaders, or got members to resign, because of racial comments on twitter or elsewhere

At a deeper level, the DA is attempting a strategy so difficult that it has only been accomplished twice before in South Africa’s history. The party seeks to change from an overwhelmingly white party to a predominantly black party. The South African Communist Party achieved this during the 1920s. The Liberal Party followed a similar path during the 1960s.

Historically, the ANC’s Freedom Charter affirmed that

South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.

The ANC’s alliances from the 1950s included organisations centred on coloured – people of both European (white) and African (black) ancestry – , Indian, and white members. It incrementally opened its own membership to supporters of all colours before 1990.

At times, a few commentators have criticised the ANC as being dominated by either isiXhosa speakers or Nguni language speakers, but these complaints found little traction. The ANC’s membership embraced a nation-wide representivity among black Africans, and included activists from all of the race-based definitions entrenched during apartheid.

Strategically, the ANC is the only African nationalist party that has had to accommodate – in policy and rhetoric – a significant white minority.

More than nine-tenths of white settlers fled Algeria after independence in 1962; the same in Angola and Mozambique following independence in 1974. This also happened in Zimbabwe between the 1980s-1990s. White Algerians had the right to French citizenship; white Angolans and Mozambicans had the right to Portuguese citizenship. Over half White Zimbabweans had the right to either South African or British citizenship.

By contrast, the overwhelming majority of white South Africans have no rights to other citizenships.

The people

White South Africans are only make up 7,8% of the population. But they remain strategically important. They still own most capital and most companies. They constitute a significant proportion of management and in most of the professions.

The western powers, investors, and media remain sensitive to their concerns and anxieties.

Interestingly, statistics show that white living standards have risen higher than anyone else’s since 1994. That is not exactly the “genocide” proclaimed by the global alt-right.

There is a wide range of black views on colour and race relations. Some activists in the Rhodes-must-fall and Fees-must-fall movements expressed total alienation from whites and “whiteness”. Simultaneously, there are many interracial friendships and some interracial marriages.

Tensions bound to remain

The world’s oldest democracy, the US, and the world’s largest democracy, India, also have to grapple with the contradictions between nonracial or non-caste ideals in their constitutions, and affirmative action and preferential procurement laws and regulations.

In South Africa, the issue has the subject of a host of by a range of institutions in the country. These range from the Human Rights Commission, to the Equality Court and similar quasi-judicial entities, in addition to test cases decided by the Constitutional Court..

Given that the country has the world’s largest white minority living under black rule, colour line tensions will remain a fairly permanent feature of the country’s political landscape. The same can be said of the US, where the world’s largest black minority lives under white rule.

Algeria’s president Abdelaziz Bouteflika finally resigns after 20 years

Algerian protesters have vowed to continue their uprising after the president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, bowed to weeks of mass demonstrations and resigned, abruptly ending two decades in power.

The 82-year-old leader announced his resignation on Tuesday night in a brief message that said he had “notified the president of the constitutional council of his decision to end his mandate”.

His resignation triggered a 90-day caretaker presidency by the chairman of the upper house of parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, until elections are held. But Bensalah assuming the leadership is unlikely to satisfy protesters, and further demonstrations are expected on Friday.

“People don’t like him. The president of the senate won’t be accepted by the Algerian people,” said one protester, Zellag Lamine, in Algiers, adding: “I don’t feel good about how these elections will unfold.”

Algerians took to the streets of the capital on Tuesday night, waving flags and chanting in celebration at Bouteflika’s departure.

“This feels new. Personally, this will be the first new president I’ve experienced,” said Nourhane Atmani, a 20-year-old student from Algiers, who took part in the protests calling for Bouteflika’s overthrow. “I’m happy, I’m excited and I’m scared. But most importantly, I’m determined. This is just a first step. We’ll keep going until we have fair, transparent elections and a new government.”

The end of Bouteflika’s 20-year reign marked a new victory for popular protest in the region. But what will happen next is unclear in a country that has rarely seen political changes at the top since gaining independence from France in 1962.

Peaceful demonstrators had taken to the streets every Friday since 22 February, their numbers sometimes in the hundreds of thousands. In just under six weeks, they had forced Bouteflika to cancel his bid for a fifth term in office and relinquish power.

Pressure had also mounted on the leader from within his own regime, and the head of Algeria’s military, Ahmed Gaïd Salah, had called for Bouteflika’s immediate departure on Tuesday. “There is no more room to waste time … We decided clearly … to stand with the people so all their demands get fulfilled,” declared Salah.

Other powerful figures, including the former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia, had also joined the calls for Bouteflika to go.

Salah argued that a statement issued by Bouteflika’s office on Monday declaring he would step down before his mandate officially ended on 28 April was written by “unconstitutional and unauthorised parties”, pitting him against the opaque clique around Bouteflika, believed to be ruling in his place.

The departing president suffered a stroke in 2013 and has rarely been seen in public since. His brother Saïd was widely believed to have been running the country from behind the scenes, aided by a cabal of sympathisers known as Le Pouvoir.

But as the growing protests emboldened demonstrators, they began to demand more than just the overthrow of Bouteflika. “It’s very clear that the ambitions of the protesters have grown over the past weeks. While this is definitely a significant victory, it’s not going to be enough,” said Chloe Teevan, a Maghreb specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Hamza Zait, a journalist and political scientist in Algiers, agreed that protesters would only be temporarily satisfied with Bouteflika’s departure.

“At the start people were just saying no to his fifth term, but then they demanded more,” he said. “There are people saying this is victory, but there are others saying it’s not sufficient. The system can’t change in a week, we need years for a real change.”

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Yasmine Bouchene of the collective Les Jeunes Engagés (Activist Youth). “The demands didn’t change. We want them all gone. People are in downtown Algiers, celebrating this miniature victory, while also chanting that it’s just the beginning.

Buhari’s victory is dangerous for Nigeria’s economy – Analysts

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has been declared winner of the 2019 presidential poll by INEC, the country’s electoral commission defeating his closest rival Atiku Abubakar with about four million votes. While the incumbent is currently being congratulated on his re-election by fellow leaders across the world, Bloomberg says his victory is bad for the Nigerian economy.

“If President Muhammadu Buhari wins another four-year term it will probably mean more political interference in Nigeria’s economy and slower growth,” research by Bloomberg Economics shows.

This sentiment was echoed by ratings agency Moody’s in a note shared with TheNerve Africa.

“Nigeria’s credit challenges remain and include a low growth environment, very high exposure to fluctuations in oil prices of government revenues and export earnings, weak institutions, and high levels of corruption,” said Aurelien Mali, Vice President at Moody’s.

Since 2015 when Buhari was first elected president, the country has been in dire economic strait, going into recession and slightly recovering at a time regional neighbours were posting impressive growth. Although a fall in oil prices took its toll on the nation, policy uncertainty under Buhari and his blatant disregard for the rule of law scared investors away. Worse, any time he is called into question over actions that are detrimental to the economy, he gets defensive. Last year, foreign direct investment into Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy dropped 36 percent to $2.2 billion. This decline saw Ghana overtake Nigeria as the country with the highest FDI in West Africa, recording an inflow of $3.3 billion. Nigeria also became the country with the highest number of poor people in the world, overtaking China. Unemployment also rose to 23.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018.  

President Buhari’s fight against corruption has also been less than impressive, with his party members facing allegations of corruption seem to be getting a free pass. It took more than two years of outcry and the nearness of the presidential poll for the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to arrest former Secretary to the Nigerian government Babachir Lawal who was sacked over corruption allegations. The governor of Nigeria’s Kano State had a key role to play in ensuring the state with one of the highest number of voters in the country support the president’s re-election bid, so when he was caught on video receiving wads of dollars, President Buhari, who was once known to abhor corruption was convinced the video must have been doctored. Governor Umar Ganduje repayed Buhari’s decision to look away with more than a million votes.

There are other members of President Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress who are under investigation or even undergoing trial for corruption, but were candidates in the just concluded National Assembly elections. Like the chairman of the ruling party said, once politicians join the party, their sins are forgiven. But not for long; Buhari’s re-election did not come easy. He garnered 15,191,847 votes against Atiku’s 11,262,978. He won 19 states against Atiku’s 17, plus the capital Abuja. This is despite the corruption-ridden label that seem to have stuck on the latter and his party, the PDP.

Thus, the president is expected to review his first term in office and strive to correct his mistakes and put the country back on a path of economic prosperity. Despite failing to fulfill his campaign promises, he was re-elected. That should count for something.

“The new Administration will intensify its efforts in Security, Restructuring the Economy and Fighting Corruption,” President Buhari said in his victory speech, although he believes a foundation has been laid to achieve improved security, fight corruption and grow the economy. But he seems to concede that nepotism reigned during his first term and so, he would correct this.

“We will strive to strengthen our unity and inclusiveness so that no section or group will feel left behind or left out,” he promised.

Regardless of what they think a Buhari second term means for the country, analysts see a better year for Nigeria in 2019. According to Bloomberg Economics, the opening of the Egina offshore oilfield operated by Total, this month and the Dangote refinery expected next year will deliver a near-term boost. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had also stated this in its Global Investment Trends Monitor released in January.

But analysts doubt his government would be able to build on gains from such projects. Bloomberg Economics expects Nigeria to keep losing ground in real GDP per capita against its peers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

One way to start well is ensuring it does not take him another six months from May 29, to set up his cabinet. The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is an important plan his government should see through; he needs to ensure capable hands are appointed to his cabinet to ensure the country benefits from the plan.

SOURCE: The Nerve Africa

How Nigeria 2019 election is an improvement to the previous elections

The close-run election contest between incumbent Muhammadu Buhari and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar was largely peaceful. But it was not a perfect performance given that there were some pockets of violence that led to the death of at least 16 people. Olayinka Ajala gives his views on the poll.

How well did the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission’s manage the vote?

Although the election can’t be described as a perfect performance, it was a noticeable improvement on previous elections conducted since the country returned to democracy in 1999.

The commission understandably received a lot of stick for pushing back the election by a week. But it has acquitted itself well by resisting intimidation from the political parties to conduct a fairly credible election.

Although there were pockets of violence – in one incident in River State 16 people died – the process was peaceful in most of the states. There was delayed voting in some polling units but the commission was able to douse the tension by extending the voting hours in the affected areas.

Faulty voter card readers were a key source of complaints by several political parties during the 2015 elections. This time around, issues relating to malfunctioning of electronic card readers were promptly addressed by the electoral commission’s mobile team.

The postponement of the elections by a week also allowed the electoral commission to replace the card readers destroyed in arson attacks on three of its state offices.

The electoral commission’s work has been commended by a number of organisation’s. Two notable ones were the All Progressives Congress whose chairman Adams Oshiomhole commended it’s work as did the Centre for Transparency Advocacy.

Despite the challenges faced by the electoral commission in the run-up to the poll, the commission was able to conduct a credible election in a very challenging atmosphere.

What other factors affected the election?

One of the key threats prior to the elections was insecurity in the already volatile regions of the country as well as in several electoral hotspots. Frequent attacks by Boko Haram and a cycle of clashes between farmers and herdsmen north of the country had created apprehensions before the elections.

True to these fears, there were multiple blasts and gun shots around the North-Eastern region of the country on the morning of the elections. Boko Haram factions fired rockets in Borno State capital Maiduguri to dissuade residents from participating in the elections. The military, however, was able to take charge of the situation and allow the residents to vote in the elections.

Although the Boko Haram ambush was quickly foiled, there were pockets of violence around the country that could affect on the outcome of the elections. This is especially at the national assembly levels in the regions affected.

In a repeat of the 2015 elections, Rivers State – which is the largest oil producing state – experienced the highest number of election related fatalities. This resulted in the cancellation of some local government elections.

At least six people were killed in Rivers State including an army officer in clashes between political party hirelings and security operatives. Rivers State is considered a major hotspot in the country during elections not only because of its position as the largest oil producing state but also because it is home to several militant groups agitating for the control of oil resources in the Niger Delta region.

There were also clashes in areas that include Lagos, Ibadan and Bayelsa.

Although these pockets of violence would affect the regions where the violence took place, it’s unlikely to affect the overall outcome of the elections as electoral commission insisted it would cancel elections where there are outbreaks of violence. Elections in the affected areas in Rivers have already been cancelled.

Can the elections be described as free and fair?

To a large extent the conduct of the elections can be described as free and fair. The electoral commission, security forces and most candidates have conducted themselves reasonably well.

As for the electorate, there is evidence that Nigerians were more willing to play their part. The electorate monitored political parties very closely, an indication in my view that democracy in Nigeria is maturing

It also seems that people were prepared to take action (sometimes by taking the law in their hands) to ensure that there wasn’t any interference in the election process. For example, in Lagos irate voters attacked and killed a one member of a vigilante group who attempted to destroy ballot papers. Although the police force has warned the electorates from engaging in “jungle justice” the willingness of voters to confront political thugs is a new development in Nigeria’s democracy.


SPURCE: The Conversation

#NigeriaDecides: Presidential elections – Live

OFFLINE

Three critical African elections

Welcome to the live update of Nigeria 2019 Presidential Elections. Follow updates and commentaries from our reporters and contributors on ground for first hand information from the polls.

3:00 – INEC postpones elections till Friday February 23rd. Read statement below.

#NigeriaDecides: Here’s How Nigerians will vote at the Presidential elections

More than 80 million eligible voters in Nigeria are expected to troop out on Saturday to select their preferred candidate for presidency as the presidential poll holds. With the campaigns by the major candidates hardly issue-based, we consider how Nigerians might vote on February 16.

Voters in Osun election

There are different categories of people who will vote: party loyalists, either by affiliation or occupation; people with ethnic bias; people whose choices are informed by their perceptions of candidates’ personalities and people whose choices will be influenced by the state of the nation. Often, party loyalists and people whose choices are informed by their perceptions of candidates’ personalities play a major role in who wins elections. However, on few occasions when a leader has obviously performed poorly, people whose choices are influenced by the state of the nation may cause a shift, but the category of people who vote based on their perception of the candidates makes this difficult, sticking with their candidate regardless of the state of the nation.   

The reality of the having the categories of voters described above is a Nigerian presidential election with two septuagenarians as frontrunners. Not that there is anything bad in having old leaders, but in Nigeria’s case, one of the two old candidates is not in the best of health and the other is labelled corrupt. Although there are 73 presidential candidates but only incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and candidate of the main opposition party Atiku Abubakar, together, tick all the boxes for categories of voters described above and this is why only one of them could win Nigeria’s presidential election on Saturday.     

Accountability

In recent elections, accountability has played an increasingly important role. With the Nigerian constitution allowing incumbents to seek re-election, accountability of government is ensured by consecutive elections. According to Friedrich’s rule of anticipated reactions, elections motivate the incumbents seeking reelection to anticipate citizens’ future reactions to their public policy. When incumbents perform below the expectation of the citizens, they risk losing their seat. This is what is playing out in the Nigerian presidential race where the opposition has mounted a formidable challenge for the presidency.   

Perception

Politics is always about perception. It is the reason why Atiku Abubakar visited the United States for just hours to dispel rumours he was barred from entering the U.S. due to corruption allegations. There are indeed evidence linking him to alleged corruption but many who say Atiku is corrupt have no knowledge of the Jefferson case. Atiku’s former boss ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo did not help his case either, with past comments raising questions about the presidential candidate’s character. Hence, the perception of corruption has stuck with Atiku and it is the reason why many votes that would have gone his way will end up with other candidates like Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and Omoyele Sowore.

Bad thing about perception for politicians is that how they are perceived isn’t always within their control. In fact, it is easier to alter the public’s perception of opponents than it is to create a taint-free persona for yourself. 

The conflicted voter

On Saturday, some Nigerians would still be torn between the two main candidates. Buhari, because they believe he is incorruptible despite everything that has gone wrong with his presidency; and Atiku, because they believe he can turn the country’s economy around.

These Nigerians would mull over their choices on their way to vote. Some may decide before they get to the polling booth while others may end up making up their mind when they are about to thumbprint the ballot. For those who still struggle with choosing either of the two candidates at that point, they may end up voting one of the popular alternatives. A few others might vote for the first party they notice on the ballot, just to get the decision over with. According to Jon Krosnick, professor of Psychology and Political Science at the Ohio State University, this is why candidates get about 2.3 percent more votes on average when their names are listed first on a ballot than when they’re listed later.

“Voters are least inclined toward the first-listed candidate when they know a lot about a race,” he noted, explaining, however, that the situation is applicable when voters are not very interested in politics. 

“People who are very interested in politics are least likely to be influenced by name order, presumably because they know the most about the race.” 

There is also a section of conflicted voters torn between voting for their preferred candidate or the candidate who offered gratification.

“Due to the voter’s poverty level, ethnicity and religious inclinations, voting pattern runs inline in order to satisfy those religious/ethnic interest and personal immediate economic needs,” notes Iwundu E of the Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria. “They accept gratification from politicians to vote for them even when they knew that such persons are not credible,” he adds. 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body responsible for conducting elections in Nigeria has promised to tackle vote buying, which was widespread at recent governorship elections in the country.

SOURCE: The Nerve Africa

PDP alleges ghost voters ahead of Election

Nigeria’s main opposition party charged Thursday that the election commission has kept more than 1 million ghost voters on the national register, raising fears of vote rigging ahead of Saturday’s presidential election.

Voters in Osun election

The electoral commission “did not in fact do a cleanup of the register of voters” before publishing it, Uche Secondus, chairman of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, told a news conference in the capital, Abuja.

“A sick narrative has emerged, one of systemic and systematic rigging, manipulation of the true record of the voters’ register and a cabal you can no longer trust with the trajectory and growth of democracy and nation,” he said.

He also alleged “a coordinated approach to register foreigners” as voters.

The People’s Democratic Party, whose presidential candidate is Atiku Abubakar, is Nigeria’s main opposition party. Allegations of ghost voters are bound to raise tensions in what is widely seen as a close contest between Abubakar, a former vice president, and President Muhammadu Buhari.

The electoral commission says 84 million people are registered to vote in this country of 190 million.

A spokesman for the electoral commission did not respond to requests for a comment.

The opposition and some election observers also have expressed concern about military deployments in part of southeastern Nigeria where separatists are active.

Buhari and Abubakar renewed a pledge for a peaceful poll on Wednesday. Both leaders vowed to contribute to a free and fair election in Africa’s most populous country and refrain from “religious incitement” or ethnic profiling.

The push for candidates to publicly renew their peace vow, first made in December, picked up in recent days after the governor of Kaduna state declared on television that anyone who came to Nigeria to intervene in the election “would go back in body bags.”

Buhari was elected to his first term in 2015, the first time in Nigerian history that an opposition party democratically won power, and his first few months in office were full of optimism.

But his government now faces widespread discontent over rising unemployment and insecurity in some parts of the country.