Top 5 Elections To Watch In Africa And Predictions For 2017

Kurt Davis Jr.
Written by Kurt Davis Jr.
Joseph Kabila. Photo: Afrika News

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)


President Joseph Kabila has been in power since 2001 after his father was assassinated. He could face multiple challenges in 2017. The country’s political parties struck a last-minute deal in late 2016 to pave the way for the first peaceful transfer of power for the DRC since its independence in 1960. But it remains a big uncertainty if the Congolese officials can organize an election by the end of 2017 — they were unable to do so last year.

Some critics believe that Kabila may renege on his promise and find a way to prevent elections in 2017. The avenues for doing such are vast: (1) Lack of funding for elections by the end of 2017. (2) Declaring a state of emergency if violence breaks out. (3) Renewed negotiations over Kabila’s exit due to his concerns that he will not receive fair treatment once outside the presidential office.

Kabila won elections in 2006 and 2011. An election was originally scheduled for mid-September 2016. His last day in office was supposed to be Dec. 19. Didn’t happen.

Despite the potential for another delay of the Congolese election, the deal allows us to consider the outcome. One part of the discussion is the influential former governor of the Katanga province, Moïse Katumbi, who resigned from the ruling party in 2015. Speculation around his participation in the next election may only be settled once an election date is set.

How many G7 signatories will run? The G7 are the seven party leaders from within the ruling DRC alliance that signed an open letter in 2015 urging Kabila to not run for a second term. The signatories include Social Movement for Renewal (MSR) Party President Pierre Lumbi, Planning Minister Olivier Kamitatu, José Endundu, Member of Parliament Christophe Lutundula, and three leaders from Katanga — Charles Mwando-Simba, Kyungu wa Kumanza and Dany Banza. Potential candidates from this list and beyond could get interesting if Katumbi does not build the grand coalition on the ground that his supporters are envisioning.

Who will win? The Congolese people win if there is an election. If Kabila is out, then this election is Katumbi’s to lose.