Africa Elections Calendar: August Is Voters ‘Super Month’

Written by Kevin Mwanza

Africa has had a busy elections calendar in 2016. The year opened with a mixed bag of dramatic elections and referendum in the first quarter of the year.

So far this year, the continent has had about four elections – a general election in Uganda in February, a presidential election in Congo Brazzaville and a parliamentary election in Cape Verde in March, and a presidential run-off in Comoros in April, Daily Nation reported.

There has since been a haitus in Africa’s voting calendar that gave the continent a whiff of fresh air to refocus on socio-economic and security matters before the beginning of another polling season.

August is now shaping up to be the ‘super month’ for elections on the continent with at least five elections scheduled to take place.

South Africa opened voting on local elections on Aug. 3, in what is seen as a test to President Jacob Zuma and the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), grip on the continent’s most industrialized country.

The ANC, which led the fight against white minority rule, is under pressure from two parties – the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, who are competing in their first local elections under firebrand leader Julius Malema, BBC News reported.

Another Southern Africa country, Zambia, is also set to go to the polls on Aug. 11. The election is shaping up to be one of the most controversial and has raised questions from the international community about the credibility of the process.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu, who is leading the ruling Patriotic Front, faces a tough opposition from business friendly Hakainde Hichilema, who has been planting the seed for his re-run as the United Party for National Development  presidential candidate since he lost to Lungu in the special election in 2015.

African elections

August is also expected to see a presidential election in Cape Verde, a tiny West African archipelago that held credible parliamentary polls won by the opposition early this year.

In Gabon, a country with a history of unabashed vote-fixing, the Bongo dynasty is widely expected to retain power during a Aug. 28 election.

Ali Bongo, son of former President Omar Bongo, who ruled Gabon since independence in 1967, is facing tough opposition in the upcoming vote. The opposition are questioning his parentage and eligibility to run for election on grounds that he was adopted from Nigeria in the 1960’s, eNCA reported.

It is not clear if a presidential election set to take place in war-torn Somalia this month will go ahead as planned.

Other elections scheduled to take place before the end of this year include a hotly contested vote in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Gambia. A referendum in Ivory Coast to reduce the presidential term is also expected to take before the close of the year.