Last year’s election predictions for 2014 were generally correct with wins by Minister of Defense Filipe Jacinto Nyussi in Mozambique, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, Jacob Zuma in South Africa and the field in Tunisia (maybe this one is a stretch). This year is not drumming up the same excitement. But the stakes at hand will be equally big.
Zambia is the surprise country on the list. Zambia’s Acting President Guy Scott recently announced that the presidential election will be held on January 20, 2015. The election is constitutionally required to replace President Michael Sata who unexpectedly passed on October 28th. President Scott is the first white leader on the African continent since South Africa Apartheid-era’s President F.W. de Klerk who left office in 1994. It should be noted that Paul Bérenger was Prime Minister of Mauritius from 2003 to 2005.
What does this mean for Zambia? President Scott faces an uphill battle to win the presidency in 2015. Opposition parties indirectly and directly drop hints to whiteness as a sign of his incompetence to govern the predominantly black Zambian population. A cloud of uncertainty consequently remains with Sata’s and now Scott’s Patriotic Front (PF) as internal debates and rumbles continue over who will be at the top of the ticket. The opposition is still clarifying how to attack the PF….consequently expect the PF to shape up a plan before the election and win a closer than expected battle (but probably not with President Scott at the top of the ticket).
Burkina Faso is partly in chaos until the next election in 2015. Previous President Blaise Compaoré, who took office in 1987, resigned on October 31st after citizens flooded the streets and protested his efforts to scrap term limits in the constitution. Military Chief of Staff General Honoré Traoré first assumed the role of acting president but stepped out of the role after protests erupted over his close ties to Compaoré. Lieutenant Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida then held power until the selection of interim President Michel Kafando, who is a retired diplomat that served as foreign minister and then Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the United Nations for 13 years. His selection came after Lieutenant Colonel Zida reinstated the constitution, following local protests over military rule.
Economic growth nosedived in the short term following the protests and multiple government transitions. Concerns over the government’s ability to pay wages were only slightly suppressed by the interim government’s recent announcement that it could cover the bill…in the long-run, expect a strong military candidate to emerge in the making of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.
Tanzanians will go to the polls in October 2015 to vote for the country’s fifth president. Incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete cannot seek a third term under the constitution which means another president will likely lead Tanzania through the process of managing its gas boom. Assuming two five year terms, the next president will guide the launch of the Tanzania’s LNG production (2021) and simultaneously manage the economic growth accompanying the LNG launch.
The leaders of the main opposition Chadema party, the Civic United Front (CUF), NCCR-Mageuzi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) signed a cooperation pact at a public rally in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam to work together in key 2015 elections. But most critics remain highly skeptical that any joint effort can end the 50 years of dominance by the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party…expect CCM to win again (possibly with the current Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda despite calls for resignation of the embattled prime minister).
South Sudan will hold its first election in July 2015 since its independence. The precarious nature of security and peace creates a cloud of uncertainty over the election and the direction of the country. A recent coup d’etat attempt and a lack of a permanent constitution does not help the situation. Throw in the opposition’s recent objections to having an election in 2015 and a belief among observers that no election implies a continuing civil conflict throughout 2015…expect a delay on the election date and a hard time for any opposition to defeat the cowboy hat wearing President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
Although 2014 has not delivered the political excitement expected, 2015 will still be a big year for Nigeria. It is Africa’s largest economy. The race could get tricky if security concerns are not alleviated by government officials. Campaigns over kidnapped girls and bombings by al-Qaeda-linked Boko Haram in northern Nigeria will continue to harm the re-election campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan. But he is likely to survive the attacks. A continued drop in oil prices could be detrimental if debt spending continues to grow, inflation follows, and the country hits a tough economic
streak. Despite all this, President Jonathan is still set up to win as the opposition has not found a way to completely erode his popularity.
By Kurt Davis Jr.
VIA Ventures Africa