Around the world, the process of voting can be interpreted as one’s civic duty or one’s responsibility to their nation. In either case, voting determines the direction of one’s nation and its potential future. The process of voting is not the same in every nation, neither are citizens’ exact motivations behind their reasoning to vote. Despite the motives behind one’s’ vote, and potential difficulties impeding the voting process, it is undeniable that voting can make a profound change in a nation’s trajectory. To further illustrate this notion, in various parts of Africa, there will be elections throughout this year. Newsweek reports that this year there will be five African elections in the following nations: Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Liberia, and Rwanda. Each of these five elections will be an important indicator of progress, as citizens will have their opportunity to determine the future of citizens’ lives in their respective nations.
The voting process throughout Africa is not without controversy. AllAfrica notes that elections throughout the continent have been violent, as nations such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Zimbabwe relive another election cycle rife in controversies. These controversies have stemmed from several accusations, though a particularly interesting controversy has occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. AllAfrica also notes that the Congo’s current president, Joseph Kabila, has continued his presidency even after his mandated two terms. Moreover, future parliamentary and presidential elections have been postponed due to ongoing violence within the nation continues. It remains unclear when a new presidential election will occur within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A more multi-faceted illustration of the impediments of elections in Africa has recently occurred in Kenya. Newsweek notes that nearly one dozen (with some claims of 100) deaths can be attributed to electoral protests or electoral violence in Kenya. Intriguingly, these protests there are not one-sided: Kenyans have accused their government of rigging recent elections, whereas Kenya’s Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i accused that citizens’ violence stems from criminal activity. Even more serious, by all accounts, is the allegation of election hacking, from former presidential candidate Ralia Odinga. Odinga, who was the presidential candidate of the NASA (National Super Alliance), has posited that Kenya’s election results were fraudulent, citing that hacking had occurred in Kenya’s electoral commission database. Additionally, his party has asserted that he, in fact, won the election, by receiving over 8 million votes compared to competitor Uhuru Kenyatta’s 7 million votes. Despite this, the election was won by Uhuru Kenyatta, on August 8th, who has served as Kenya’s president since 2013.
The third nation of note facing an election this year is Angola. CAJ News, an African news site, reports that citizens in Angola will not be able to protest during the nation’s parliamentary polls next week. According to the nation’s Ministry of Interior, this decision was imposed in an effort to ensure safety throughout the nation. On the other hand, this move is also viewed as a limitation on Angolans’ freedom of expression and rights associated with protesting. This opinion has been expressed by groups such as Human Rights Watch.
The confluence of presidential elections and allegations impeding citizens’ voting in Africa presents many intersectional difficulties. Several conflicts exist which require attention prior to addressing the underlying issues of African presidential elections and citizens’ voting access. There are challenges on behalf of Angolans, Kenyans, and citizens of the Congo, who may deeply desire a stable government where voting and presidential elections occur seamlessly. Similarly, governments and government officials should properly address these issues to provide transparency. Acknowledging these problems may take some time, especially correcting issues surrounding election hacking and violence. However, it may also ensure that the voting process translates into unquestionable election results. It is imperative that all African nations conduct elections responsibly so that current and future election results are not disputed.