Nkandlagate vs Cashgate: A Tale Of Two African Elections

Nkandlagate vs Cashgate: A Tale Of Two African Elections

Joyce Banda, Malawi’s president and one of the only three African female heads of state, was unlikely to be at Jacob Zuma’s second inauguration as the president of South Africa. And this had nothing to do with Zuma derogatory remarks that Gauteng’s freeways, where e-tolls are levied, were “not like some national road in Malawi”.

While he of the ‘insensitive remarks’ was being sworn in for a second and final term in office as the head of Africa’s second largest economy, Banda was struggling to annul a chaotic presidential election pitting her against her predecessor’s brother, Peter Mutharika.

South Africans and Malawians went to the polls on the 7th and 20th of May respectively. Some 16 million voters cast their votes in South Africa out of some 25 million registered voters, while over 70 two-third of the 7 million registered voters in Malawi casted their ballot.

In both countries it is the fifth election since the end of Apartheid in South Africa and the return to plural politics in Malawi. At 52 million, South Africa’s population is more than three times that of Malawi’s 16 million, Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa reported

As they entered the election period both presidents were mired in corruption scandals.

While President Banda’s reputation was dented by a scandal that saw government officials and politicians siphoning millions of taxpayer dollars through a porous government payment system that became known as Cashgate, President Zuma was entangled in controversial Nkandlagate scandal for upgrades to his private residence that cost South African taxpayers millions of dollars.

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But while Zuma sailed through to his second term almost unopposed by a weak opposition and riding rather strongly on the ‘liberator from apartheid’ horse, Banda was facing a formidable opponent in her predecessor’s brother Mutharika.

A rather unprepared Malawian Electoral commission deliver what was expected. A chaotic voting process that threatened to sink the Southern Africa nation into post election violence scenes witnessed in Kenya in 2007/08 where violence erupted across the east African nation killing more than 1,200 people and disrupting regional business for a couple of months.

Conceding defeat seemed not to be on the cards for both front runner in Malawi either.

A hallmark of Democracy, South Africa’s electoral system was more than efficient in delivering a credible election that we rather seamless and uneventful.

So finally as the cookies crumble, post election scenarios have been different for the two African democracies. A peaceful inauguration in South Africa in contrast to a bitterly contested election results in Malawi that might take nothing less than two month to declare a winner after a gruesome recount ordered by the High Court.