Seminar unpacks the politics of electioneering in Africa

On 24 October 2017, the SARChI Chair in Multilevel Government Law and Policy, Prof Nico Steytler hosted a dialogue session with Dr Conrad Bosire and Dr Zemelak Ayele. The topic of the dialogue was: The politics of electioneering in Africa: The case of Kenya and Ethiopia.

Bosire focused on Kenya’s 2017 general election. He analysed the gradual erosion of institutions as a result of corrosive and toxic politics and electoral processes in Kenya. According to Bosire, contrary to the experience in many African countries, Kenya’s post-Cold War Presidents are not always certain (incumbency notwithstanding) of a re-election. “The presidential vote is roughly divided into two halves between two main political coalitions, a situation that raises stakes in presidential elections and turns them into an intense and nerve-wrecking exercise. As a result, partisan politics and societal divisions, which are fractured along ethnic lines, have permeated virtually every sector of Kenya’s society and institutions.”

Ayele spoke on ‘menu of institutional manipulations’ how  the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) uses to maintain its electoral authoritarianism. He also talked about EPRDF’s vanguardist self-view that underpins the party’s drive to political dominance.  He pointed out that Ethiopia is generally considered to have ‘a dominant party authoritarian’ system in which the EPRDF, along with its affiliates, enjoy exclusive political power in the country. The party was declared a winner in all elections that were held since 1991. In the 2015 national and regional elections EPRDF and affiliates claimed 100 % victory. 

Dr Conrad Bosire is a governance advisor at Katiba Institute in Nairobi currently a post-doctoral research fellow with the SARChI Chair in Multlevel Government, Law and Policy at the Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape. 

Dr Zemelak Ayele is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Federal Studies of Addis Ababa University, Extraordinary Professor at the Dullah Omar Institute of UWC, and former post-doctoral Researcher under the SARCHi for Multilevel Government, Law and Policy.

Follow this link for pictures from this event.