The Dar Side? Yet another President’s Electoral Commission

With elections in Tanzania set for October 31, the East African today reported “Fear, anxiety build up ahead of Tanzania’s election showdown Sunday”.

Most commentators, including Africa Confidential have not gone so far as to suggest that President Kikwete of the Nyerere ruling party CCM faced any real likelihood of defeat, but the East African asserts that an opposition surge has resulted in a serious two man race:

An opinion poll by non-government organisation Tanzania Citizens Information Bureau found that if elections were held between September 27 and October 10, Dr Willbrod Slaa, 62, would obtain 45 per cent of the votes cast against Kikwete’s 41 per cent.

Two earlier polls, one by the Synovate group and the other by a University of Dar es Salaam think tank, showed that Kikwete would win with 61 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.

Analysts say that in the eyes of the public, CCM has gradually deviated from its founding values — fighting corruption, ensuring less spending on government administration and provision of social services — and that its leadership is firmly in the pockets of the capitalist class.

At the same time, Chadema, a 1992 breakaway from CCM — then led by Edwin Mutei, former governor and finance minister who disagreed with Nyerere, his boss then, on fiscal policy — has been making the fight against corruption the key plank of its electoral platform.

This play of perceptions seems to be earning Dr Slaa political mileage, and troubling Kikwete’s advisers.
. . . .
It appears that Chadema’s choice of presidential candidate was designed to exploit the frictions within CCM and expose the mismatch between its founding principles and the current reality.

Dr Slaa crossed from CCM to Chadema in 1995 after the party did not let him contest a political post for which he had won the primaries. He stood on the Chadema ticket to represent Karato District in parliament and won.

The catholic priest-turned-politician, who has built a reputation of himself as a man who speaks his mind and fearlessly fights corruption, brought his social-democratic values to a Chadema till then known as a centrist outfit.

Dr Slaa has pledged to cut the salary of the president by 20 per cent and those of Members of Parliament by 15 per cent.
. . . .
The opposition has accused the ruling party of using state resources to facilitate its campaign. There are fears of rigging and ultimately violence during and after the election.

The Electoral Commission has said that there are about 19 million registered voters, “However, scientific demographic surveys indicate that there cannot be more than 16 million voters in Tanzania,” said Ismail Jussa, CUF deputy secretary general.

“Electoral corruption has never reached this level: There are politicians out there buying votes, but nothing is being done to curb this,” Mr Jussa added.
. . . .
There are concerns with the electoral legal framework. The Elections Act 1995 provides for a National Electoral Commission to be appointed by the president, which in turn appoints district election officials who happen to be government officials.

A recent amendment provided for the Commission to appoint officials, in the event that district executive directors cannot supervise elections in the areas, but such new appointees are also civil servants. “The Electoral Commission is not independent,” Chadema’s Mnyika told The EastAfrican.

Electoral Commissions appointed unilaterally by a president who is running for re-election are a disaster waiting to happen, as we saw in Kenya in 2007. This situation allowed fraud in Uganda in the last election and theatens it again in February 2011.

Tanzania is a MCC compact country and a U.S. favorite. Kikwete visited Kibaki in Nairobi in early 2008 said to be carrying a message on behalf of the U.S. and helping to persuade Kibaki to agree to negotiated toward a deal to allow a role for ODM along with PNU in a power-sharing for national unity. The Tanzanian election has been low on my radar screen with all of the many problems in the region and certainly State and USAID have more than their hands full of challenges. Let us hope Tanzanian officials rise to the occasion.

New Mo Ibrahim Foundation rankings for African Governments

Here are the 2010 Ibrahim Index rankings for the East African Community members, plus Ethiopia and Sudan, out of 53 African countries. Overall ranking to left, "Participation and Human Rights" in parenthesis to the right:

15 Tanzania (56.37)
24 Uganda (50.84)
27 Kenya (55.47)
31 Rwanda (37.94)
32 Burundi (48.63)

34 Ethiopia (34.58)
48 Sudan (23.08)

“Political Stability”, “Investor Confidence” and meaningful elections in East Africa

Wednesday’s Nairobi Business Daily features a story headlined “Political stability lifts investor confidence in East Africa“:

Easing political tensions and the ongoing search for uniform governance standards in East Africa has lifted business confidence in the region and is encouraging investments that could boost employment.

Buoyed by recent peaceful elections, investors in the five EAC member countries said governance based on the rule of law had significantly lowered political risk, creating a stability that has allowed them to engage their expansion gears once again.

Rwanda and Burundi successfully concluded presidential elections last month, a trend that has been crowned by Kenya and Zanzibar early this month when they conducted peaceful referenda.

“It is satisfying for investors — and regional blue chip players in particular — when elections are peaceful the way we are witnessing them,” said Mr Peter Munyiri, KCB deputy CEO in charge of group business.

The bank, which has just raised Sh12.5 billion from its highly publicised rights issue, says it will use part of the money to mobilise savings and create a large pool of credit across the region, “Certainly the political and sovereign risks in the region set an attractive business environment and KCB can comfortably lend more money, with the region also expected to become the home for lots of overseas funds looking for investment destinations,” said Mr Munyiri.

It is certainly striking to see the presidential elections in Rwanda and Burundi labeled as “successful” when in both cases the sitting administrations essentially disqualified the opposition and conducted elections without meaninful competition–in Burundi without even a token alternative on the ballot. The notion of a security tradeoff between “stablity” and democratic political openness is certainly a familiar refrain in East Africa but it is rare to see a statement this explicit of an attractiveness to investors of meaningless but peaceful voting.

A follow up question is whether investors care about the political reforms so fervently hoped for as a result of the safe passage of the new Kenyan constitution, or is it just that fact that the vote was held without significant violence? Each of these countries presents a very different situation in many respects: at one extreme, Rwanda is relatively underdeveloped and poor outside Kigali and is hugely dependent on aid, but gets high marks for having relatively little corruption, and rapid progress in some areas of development while seeming to move further away from political openness. Kenya has had fairly robust overall growth most years post-Moi and receives a relatively small amount of its direct government budget from official assistance; at the same time it remains notoriously corrupt, has huge inequality and radically uneven development. In recent months, Kenya reformed its election commission and midwifed a new constitution that 90% of Kenyans reportedly are glad to have passed. So the trend on democracy in Kenya seems to be running now in the opposite direction from Burundi and Rwanda.

With security concerns rising with the latest bomb blast killing 6 MPs in Mogadishu and the July bombings in Kampala, how does the “investor confidence” factor play out in assessing the risks that are worth taking to support democracy in Uganda with elections coming in February?

Time covers Burundi’s “High Stakes” Presidential Election Monday

From Ioannis Gatsiounis in Time, “Why All of East Africa is Watching Burundi’s Election”:

When Burundi goes to the polls on June 28, it will be the first of four countries in the East African Community (EAC) to hold presidential elections over the next eight months. Neighboring leaders and international observers were hoping the war-torn country would set a positive precedent for the others in the EAC — an intergovernmental organization intended to create political and economic link between countries that include Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania — and complete its transition to democracy in the process. But in recent weeks, an escalating series of political clashes and violent incidents has made it unlikely that Burundi will serve as a role model for the region.

The trouble began on May 24 when voters in the country’s local elections handed power to the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD). Accusing the CNDD-FDD of fraud, the 13 opposition parties withdrew from the presidential race, leaving incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza as the only candidate.
. . . .
“Burundi is facing a serious crisis,” says Fabien Nsengimana, program coordinator of the Burundi Leadership Training Program. And it could endanger not only national but regional stability. Glancing at Burundi’s vital statistics, it’s hard to imagine that what goes on in the country could have such an impact — Burundi is landlocked, it’s one of Africa’s smallest countries and one of the world’s poorest, with little in the way of prized natural resources. Yet time and again the former Belgian colony has proved pivotal to east Africa’s security, serving as a crossroads for the illegal arms trade and a floodgate for refugees. It even played a part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, with strife between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi igniting tensions across the border.
. . . .
Burundi is no stranger to political strife, but traditionally it would cut along racial lines, with Hutus pitted against Tutsis. But a 2001 power-sharing agreement has effectively rendered race a non-issue. Today, four of President Nkurunziza’s 12 ministers, including his vice president, are Tutsi. These days, unrest is fed by social inequality: undereducated and unskilled youth, high unemployment, and a scarcity of land in a country where the majority of people survive as subsistent farmers.

Burundi vote; Coke(TM) in Somaliland

“This is Africa” has a good new discussion of the state of things after the first round of elections in Burundi.

Meanwhile, with the presidential election in Somaliland now just less than a month away, plans for a local Coca-Cola bottling plant between Hargeisa and Berbera hit the media this week:

Coke will be supplied in Somaliland by SBI (Somaliland Beverages Industries) and after the launch of the factory, bottles of Coke products will be priced to compete with locally bottled no-name brands and all Somalilanders will be able to take advantage of the great Coke taste at a great price.

There is no word yet as to whether or not SBI has considered recycling options for their output, however, perhaps somewhere in the future we can read about another group of Somaliland Entrepreneurs opening the country’s first recycling plant.

High level U.S. Delegation carries requests to Museveni on fair elections and Iran sanctions

Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, was joined by the acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Security Affairs and Non-proliferation, and by General “Kip” Ward, AFRICOM Commander, in meeting Wednesday with Ugandan President Museveni. According to the Daily Monitor the U.S. was requesting that Museveni agree to reconstitute the Ugandan Electoral Commission ahead of next year’s election and support a U.S. draft resolution on Iran sanctions with Uganda’s current vote on the UN Security Council.

Museveni rejected the request regarding the Electoral Commission. Inter-Party Cooperation (“IPC”), the grouping of four opposition parties, has said that it will boycott next year’s elections if the composition of the Electoral Commission is not reconfigured. No word on the answer on the U.N. sanctions vote but it doesn’t sound positive.

On the electoral issues, The New Vision reports:

Museveni advised the delegation and other foreigners, who are approached by the “opportunistic” opposition members about Uganda’s problems to always, offer them a cup of coffee and send them back because Uganda has structures that can solve its problems.

On international issues:

Museveni challenged Americans to give him concrete evidence that the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons and that they have refused to comply with the regulations.

On Somalia, the President said there was need to take tougher action against the terrorists and ensure a roadmap towards elections so that the Somali people recover their sovereignty from the gunmen.

Discussing the Sudan issue, the Americans assured Museveni of their commitment to full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Carson said they were preparing for the eventual outcome of the referendum expected to take place in April next year.

Carson’s immediate predecessor at the Africa Bureau, Jendayi Frazer, is with the Whitaker Group, the lobbyists for the Museveni government in Washington.

Kyrgyzstan–lessons for the U.S. in East Africa?

Certainly the stature and image–and influence–of the United States in Kyrgyzstan seems to be badly damaged by the degree to which the U.S. got itself intertwined with the corrupt Bakiev regime. Bakiev played his leverage from granting the U.S. continued use of the Manas airbase at the Bishkek airport–increasingly important to the U.S. as the war on Afghanistan ramped up.

The needs of warfighting trump support for democracy, anti-corruption efforts and such. That’s reality. Thus, the question: in a war of choice for nation building in one country, what is the collateral damage to good governance and democracy elsewhere?

How far are we willing to go to support the TFG in Somalia? What compromises will we face in dealing with the leaders of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Burundi?

One immediate issue is whether and how the U.S. will use its influence with the Kenyan military in regard to cooperation with the International Criminal Court in its current investigations.

I was an IRI election observer in Kyrgyzstan when Bakiev was elected to a full term in July 2005 following the March 2005 Tulip Revolution. I observed voting in small cities and towns in the Ferghana Valley region in the southwest. This was near the site of the Andijan massacre across the border in Uzbekistan and the region was tense–nonetheless, the atmosphere was hopeful with the new government. Voting was anti-climactic in that Bakiev cut a deal with his most prominent opponent shortly before the election, so the outcome was not really in doubt.

In that heavily Islamic part of the country the economy had been in decline since the fall of the Soviet Union. No one had taken down the statues of Lenin, or even a large portrait of Marx in the auditorium of one of the schools where we observed voting. The Soviet Union, I was told locally, had simply ended without much warning. Since then the roads were gradually crumbling, the machinery was wearing out, the stores had closed–and locals with a profession had gone to Russia for work. The country was much in need of the rent the U.S. was paying for use of Manas, but a main reason for getting rid of Akiev was the perception that he was running the government to the benefit of his family rather than the people as a whole. Apparently Bakiev was not the change in the this respect.

“Fuel Sales to US at Issue in Kyrgyzstan” NY Times

“How Not to Run an Empire” FP

“Blood in the Streets of Bishkek” FP

“When Patience Runs Out”–IHT, Paul Quinn-Judge of International Crisis Group

Somaliland/Somalia, Moi, Uganda, Corruption, Deep South

*”Somaliland: The Invisible Country” from Virginia Quarterly Review via The Somaliland Times.

*Nick Wadhams on “a really stupid idea” for Somalia.

*Interesting to see Moi in Uganda campaigning for Museveni’s re-election. What’s the message? “We shouldn’t have to bother with this voting stuff, but turn out for your President and The Party”? Things do seem to be gearing up among Kenyan politicos for Uganda’s election. See this Op/Ed: “Only Moi, Mugabe Could Have Come for ‘NRM Day’“.

*Negative report eariler this month disclosing unfavorable terms for previously secret Ugandan oil contracts with Tullow has helped keep the ball in the air perhaps.

*”US-Uganda Arms May Be Aiding Al-Shabaab says NGO“. From the Daily Monitor: “TFG lacks the capacity to prevent the diversion of substantial quantities of its own weaponry and military equipment to other armed groups and to Somalia’s domestic arms markets”. Full Amnesty International report.

*On the corruption front, the US is seeking extradition of a UK lawyer for allegedly trying to induce a colleague to give false evidence in the prosecution of the case that led to the $579M fine against Halliburton for bribes to Nigerian officials. In the meantime, the UK Serious Fraud Office seems to be moving forward in matters involving BAE which could include the alleged Tanzanian bribery.

*From the Deep South: The Los Angeles Times covers two interesting assistance/development efforts in the Mississippi Delta and Lower Alabama.