Category Archives: Elections

JEFCAS SEMINAR SERIES : Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: The Kenyan Elections of 2017

Venue: Pemberton Room 2.11

Date: Wed 29th November 2017

Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm

Speaker: Prof Nic Cheeseman, University of Birmingham

Prof Nic Cheeseman

About Prof Nic Cheeseman: Nic Cheeseman is Professor of Democracy and International Development at the University of Birmingham. In addition to numerous book chapters, he is the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, failures and the struggle for political reform (CUP, 2015) and over twenty journal articles including “Rethinking the ‘presidentialism debate’: Conceptualizing coalitional politics in cross-regional perspective” (Democratization, 2014), which won the inaugural GIGA prize for the best article published in Comparative Area Studies.

Professor Cheeseman is also the editor of the collections Our Turn to Eat: Politics in Kenya Since 1950 (2010), The Handbook of African Politics (2013), and African Politics: Major Works (2016), and two special issues of the Journal of Eastern African Studies on the Kenyan elections of 2007 and 2013. As well as being the former editor of the journal African Affairs, the #1 ranked journal in Area Studies, Professor Cheeseman is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, the Oxford Dictionary of African Politics, and the co-editor of the Handbook of Kenyan Politics (forthcoming). These days, he spends much of his time writing about contemporary events in Africa in a bi-weekly column for Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper. Professor Cheeseman also regularly provides analysis to the UK and US governments, and is an advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel.

P.S: This is a rescheduled seminar from 25th October 2017


African Peace Militaries War, Peace and Democratic Governance


About the Editor

David J. Francis is the most recent Head of Department of Peace Studies and is currently Director of the John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS), at the University of Bradford, UK. He is author/editor of eight books, including US Strategy in Africa (ed. Routledge, 2010).


This book provides a critical understanding of the emerging role of African militaries in peacetime democratic Africa.

This book departs from the dominant perspective which simply presents the military as an ‘enemy’ of democracy because of the history and legacy of unending military coup d’états and interventions in civilian politics. In the context of Africa, the military has been blamed or largely held responsible for instigating wars, armed conflicts, political violence, poverty and underdevelopment due to bad governance and mismanagement of the state. Drawing from diverse case studies across Africa, including Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Egypt, this volume presents the argument that though the military has played a negative, and sometimes, destructive role in undermining constitutional rule and the overthrow of democratic civilian governments, the same military, now operating in a changed global environment, is making effort to support the development of democracy and democratic consolidation as well as remain subjected to civilian democratic oversight and control. Notwithstanding, the real challenge for this emerging trend of African peace militaries is the extent to which they are able to fulfil, on a predictable and consistent basis, their constitutional mandate to defend the people against ‘elected autocrats’ in Africa who try to use the military to perpetuate themselves in power.

This work fills a critical gap in the literature and will be of much interest to students of African security and politics, peace and conflict studies, security studies and IR in general.

Table of Contents

1. African Militaries in War, Peace and Support for Democratic Development, David J. Francis

2. The Military in Nigeria: War, peace and support for democratic governance, Oshita Oshita

3. The Rwanda Defence Force: from Genocide to Peace and Democratic Consolidation, Marco Jowell

4. Military in Uganda: war, peace and support for democratic consolidation, Eric Awich Ochen

5. Military Response to Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria: Implications for Peace, Security and Democracy in the Lake Chad Basin, Kenneth C. Omeje

6. African Solutions to Western Problems: Western-sponsored Training Programmes for African Militaries: impact on Peace and Democratic Consolidation, David Chuter

7. African Standby Force: Challenges and Opportunities for support of Democracy in Africa, Kasaija Phillip Apuuli

8. African Militaries, Security Sector Reform and Peace Dividends: a case study of Ethiopia’s post-1998 Defence Reform Experience and impact on Democratic Development, Ann Fitz-Gerald, Paula MacPhee & Ian Westerman

9. Egypt: the Military in War, Peace and Democratic Development, Joseph Lansana Kormoh

Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:    
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1

Una Hakika: The Phone Line of Prevention in Kenya

Christine Mutisya is a project coordinator for the Una Hakika project. She has an MSc in development and project planning from Bradford University. She is engaged in managing misinformation for the Sentinel Project, involving herself in peacebuilding activities and project management.

Adrian Gregorich is the community manager at the Sentinel Project. His academic background is in human rights, holding an MSc in human rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an honours BA in political science and human rights from Carleton University in Ottawa. Adrian has worked with a number of NGOs around Africa as well as in Canada. His research and campaigning interests lie in mine action, violence prevention, poverty reduction, and global primary health care. He works as a freelance writer and resides in Ottawa, Canada. He can be reached via Twitter: @AdGregorich

Misinformation is a major problem in societies around the world, especially now that the rise of social media enables the spreading of rumours to happen much faster than was possible in the pre-digital era. Kenya’s Tana Delta region provides a good example not only of how misinformation can spread, but also how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used to monitor and contain its harmful effects.

Misinformation was one of the factors that led to violence in the Tana Delta during 2012 and 2013, a time when Kenya was warming up to the general election scheduled for March 2013. At such times, politics and land injustices become especially salient and these also factored into the clashes which killed nearly 170 people while displacing tens of thousands. The aftermath included increased hatred and mistrust between the two most affected ethnic communities, the Orma and the Pokomo. Even after the election period ended, misinformation still spread throughout the Tana Delta, thus continuing tensions in the region.

A Sentinel Project team visited the Tana Delta in early 2013 and recognized this problem of rumours, which led to the creation of Una Hakika (Swahili for “Are you sure?”), a mobile phone-based information system used to map and counter misinformation in the Tana Delta. One of Una Hakika’s long-term goals is to enable people to ask themselves are you sure before taking action on any information. Rapid action on false rumours before verification led to some of the violence in 2012-2013.

The focus of the training was accurate reporting of information through the Una Hakika text messaging service.
The focus of the training was accurate reporting of information through the Una Hakika text messaging service.

Before setting up the system, the Una Hakika team conducted a baseline survey throughout the Tana Delta during January-February 2014 in order to understand the spread of information in the region, what technologies people use to share that information, and to generally understand the potential users of Una Hakika in order to better design the system. One key finding from the survey was that 87.3% of the 249 respondents believed rumours contributed to violence in the region, while 61.1% of respondents had heard information they believed to be untrue within the previous 12 months. Out of those 61.1% only 50.6% took further action to verify if the information was true.

Newly trained ambassadors are using the technology available to them to report potentially dangerous rumours, and help build peace in their communities.

Una Hakika works as a free mobile phone-based reporting system with a short code through which individual citizens report incidents or potential misinformation, after which they receive verification of its accuracy. This works via a three-stage process. In the first stage, users send information to the system, through SMS, phone calls, the Una Hakika website, or by speaking to a trained community ambassador. who serve as a bridge between people and technology.

The second stage of the process prioritizes and verifies received messages by drawing upon a variety of information sources which may be able to provide the facts of the situation relating to a given rumour. These sources include the community ambassadors, local authorities (police and administration), other NGOs operating in the area, and the media (social media and mainstream media).

Third, once the Una Hakika team has verified reports of a rumour they are then able to provide feedback to the community about the authenticity of the information. This response is targeted to ensure that the rumour management process does not inadvertently spread rumours. Rumour verifications are still only sent to subscribers in the villages from which those rumours were reported, since there is a risk of people who have not heard a given rumour focusing on the wrong parts of a counter message and disregarding the statement that the rumour is false.

Two years down the line, Una Hakika has seen tremendous results. People’s mindsets have changed in the sense that now when a resident in the Tana Delta hears a rumour their first reactions is increasingly likely to verify its validity before passing it on or taking any action. The number of survey respondents who would look into the accuracy of information the were not convinced was true has risen from from 50.6% to 57.4%. Previously, information tended to be taken at face value, and some people would take drastic action upon hearing threatening rumours.

Summary of the Sentinel Project's work shared with residents of the Kipao village.
Summary of the Sentinel Project’s work shared with residents of the Kipao village.

Government officials also see the importance of Una Hakika as they are now able to synchronize efforts with the system, thus ensuring that they do not waste time or resources reacting to false information. Another advantage of the Una Hakika model is that residents who fear being interrogated by police can report to the Una Hakika team, which will then turn it over to the authorities. This increased level of trust has resulted in some instances when the Una Hakika team received information about serious incidents (including massacres) even before the police did.

Trust is difficult to build, but this process has been a major factor in the success of Una Hakika’s community engagement. At the beginning of the project the community was wary of their aim, which is understandable due to the violence they had experienced. In order to gain trust the Una Hakika staff had to rely on existing trusted networks such as the local administration, religious leaders, and community elders.

Community engagement goes hand-in-hand with trust. While Una Hakika uses technology to fight misinformation, the human element cannot be ignored. The cultures of the Tana Delta value face-to-face meetings, and the priority given to conduct such meetings has played an integral role in Una Hakika’s success. However, this is not easy since one must ensure impartiality and inclusivity when dealing with an ethnically diverse community such as those in the Tana Delta.

Despite many challenges, the Una Hakika project has made a substantial contribution to the peacebuilding process in the Tana Delta through the development, testing, and refinement of tools and techniques for countering misinformation that has the potential to lead to violence. The Una Hakika model also demonstrates great potential for being applied in other regions of Kenya, as well as other violence-prone areas around the world.

Further Reading:

The Sentinel Project: Kenya Project 

Una Haikia Rumor reporting site

Tanzania Multi-party Politics and Poverty

[Image: CHADEMA-UKAWA rally in Dodoma]

Ananilea Nkya is a PhD researcher on media engagement with development, University of Bradford, UK. Before joining the university, she was Executive Director of Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) for 11 years. The organization advocates and promotes women’s human rights through the media.

Tanzania’s general elections will take place on October 25th. 

After 25 years of single party rule, Tanzania saw the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1992. General elections were conducted in five year intervals with the aim of putting into power political leadership that could end poverty among the majority of people. Poverty, along with ignorance and disease have been identified as key enemies of Tanzania since independence (Nyerere, 1979).

In 1995, Tanzania was among 117 countries that attended the World Summit on Social Development and adopted a global plan of action for eradicating poverty by 2015. The UN then defined absolute poverty as a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services (Gordon, 2005).

Unfortunately, after two decades of multi-party democracy and implementation of the global action plan poverty is still a prominent problem for the country’s growing population. The population has grown from 12.3 million people in 1967 to 44.9 million in 2012 (Statistics and Office of Chief Government Statistian 2013).

Evidence of poverty in Tanzania includes poor child health due to lack of food. UN Tanzania 2014 Human Development Report, estimates that 35 per cent of children below the age five in the country were facing chronic malnutrition making the country one of the 28 poorest countries in the world (Guardian, 2015). A nutritionist from Tanzania central region of Dodoma region, Stella Kimambo observes that malnutrition is a disease because if child miss proper food nutrients during 270 days in the womb and 730 days after delivery it cuts intelligence quotient to between 10 to 15 and that the sickness could never be cured (Magubira, 2015).

Afrobarometer data on lived poverty rates in Tanzania
Afrobarometer data on lived poverty rates in Tanzania

Millions poor in midst of richness

Although millions of Tanzanians are currently languishing in poverty, it is one of Africa’s natural resource rich countries. In 2009 alone gold earned Tanzania four billion dollars compared to negligible foreign currency earned from the mining in 2000 (Mjimba, 2011). By 2010, Tanzania had joined South Africa and Ghana in becoming the three leading African countries exporters of gold (Coulson, 2013).

Tanzania also attracts foreign financial assistance for its annual budgets mainly from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the African Development Bank, the European Commission and the World Bank. Thus, the question is: If in Tanzania huge sums of foreign monies arrive annually and multi-party politics supports governance checks and balances, why are the majority of citizens still poor?

Operating multi-party politics in single party framework

Tanzania adopted multi-party democracy, not by choice, but as an IMF loan condition. A situation shared by many states exposed to hegemonic Bretton Woods’ financial institutions following the developing countries debt crisis in the 1980s (Moyo, 2009). Samuel Makinda observed that multi-party democracy was expected to end authoritarian rule in Africa associated with ‘weaknesses in the structures and performance of public institutions’ (Makinda, 1996:555).

But has multi-party politics strengthened public institutions in Tanzania?

Realities on the ground suggest that a lot needs to be done. Jacques Morisset, a World Bank lead economist for Tanzania in July this year, observed that though some people in the country working in the informal sector earned huge amounts of money, the current level of tax revenues in the country was one of lowest in the world, Therefore ‘‘the problem reflected systemic issues in policy and administration’’ (Aman, 2015).

Not only does the government not collect taxes effectively but its agents also engage in thievery of public funds to accomplish party strategic goals in order to cling onto state power. In 2014, 306 billion shillings (about $204 million US dollars) were dubiously withdrawn from Tegeta escrow account in the Central Bank and no legal measures were taken against the high level public figures involved (Citizen, 2015). Indeed, grand corruption and thievery of public funds occurring in the last ten years saw Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and its government losing public credibility by being branded grand thief (fisadi) (Mtulya, 2015).

Arguably, thievery of public resources is taking a toll because the government re-introduced multi-party democracy before implementing recommendations by commission chaired by Judge Francis Nyalali mandating the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission and repealing of 40 laws undermining news media and political freedoms (Nyirabu, 2002).

As a result, four general elections were conducted, in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. CCM won with landslide victories in both presidential and parliamentary seats. For example, the 2010 elections saw the CCM winning the majority of seats in the parliament as the opposition won only 22 percent or 80 seats out of 357 seats (Coulson, 2013).

The main opposition party CHADEMA accused CCM of manipulating presidential votes (uchakachuaji), and demanded writing of a new constitution which among others, would establish an independent electoral commission before the 2015 elections. Unsurprisingly, it did not happen because although in 2011 President Jakaya Kikwete formed a Constitution Commission chaired by Judge Joseph Warioba which collected views from the citizens countrywide and prepared the Draft Constitution. However, CCM members who constituted more than 80 percent of Constitutional Assembly, refused to endorse the citizens Draft Constitution (Nkya, 2014),

CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa rallies voters
CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa rallies voters

Interestingly, CCM’s refusal to adopt the citizens’ Proposed New Constitution saw four opposition parties- CHADEMA, CUF, NCCR-Mageuzi forming a Union of Citizens Constitution- Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (UKAWA) as a strategy to disrupt the power base of the CCM in elections.

Future possibility of ending poverty

This year’s elections have attracted national and international attention for a number of reasons. Firstly, UKAWA have filled single candidates for Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillorship posts. Secondly, two former Prime Ministers, Fredrick Sumaye and Edward Lowassa, a key CCM founder Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru, former Home Affairs minister Laurence Macha and ambassador Juma Mwapachu are among CCM members who so far have abandoned CCM and are for UKAWA campaign theme change (mabadiliko). Thirdly, arguably, citizens are tired of CCM empty promises.

Therefore, there is cut throat competition between CCM and CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidates as well as candidates in junior posts.

CCM presidential candidate, John Magufuli demonstrates fitness for office at recent rally
CCM presidential candidate, John Magufuli demonstrates fitness for office at recent rally
 However, the possibility of eradicating of poverty in Tanzania in the near future depends on the winner of 25 October elections. This is because while CHADEMA under UKAWA manifesto indicates that the coalition will write a new constitution based on the citizens’ proposed constitution, the CCM manifesto contains nothing on the matter.

A new constitution among other developments, will establish an independent electoral commission for conducting free and fair elections. In this way any political party elected in future will work harder to accomplish its promises as well as avoiding corruption and thievery of public funds and resources (ufisadi); practices which undermine efforts to end poverty in Tanzania.


Aman, F. (2015) WB hits govt for poor revenue collection [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:

Citizen, T. (2015) Escrow saga still matters in donor help, says IMF [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:–says-IMF/-/1840392/2585310/-/eli8jb/-/index.html.

Coulson, A. (2013) Tanzania: a political economy. Oxford University Press.

Gordon, D. (2005) Indicators of Poverty & Hunger. In: Expert Group meeting on youth development indicators. pp. 12-14.

Guardian, T. (2015) Human Development Report has invaluable lessons for us [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:

Magubira, P. (2015) Malnutrition takes toll on TZ: expert [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen newspaper, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:–expert/-/1840340/2908366/-/xrvxr3/-/index.html.

Makinda, S. M. (1996) Democracy and multi-party politics in Africa. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 34 (04), 555-573.

Mjimba, V. (2011) The nature and determinants of linkages in emerging minerals commodity sectors: a case study of gold mining in Tanzania. In: Unpublished working paper prepared for Making the Most of Commodities workshop.

Moyo, D. (2009) Dead aid: why aid makes things worse and how there is another way for Africa. London: Allen Lane.

Mtulya, A. (2015) How corruption rocked Kikwete’s govt in the past decade [Medium].Place Published: The Citizen, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:

Nkya, A. (2014) ‘Proposed Constitution not people-centred, bears no 50-50 representation’ [Medium].Place Published: The Guardian, Updated Last Update Date. [cited Access Date]. Available from:

Nyerere, J. (1979) Freedom and development:The Tanzanian experience. In: Coulson, A. (Ed.) African socialism in practice. Spokesman, pp. 27-35.

Nyirabu, M. (2002) The multiparty reform process in Tanzania: The dominance of the ruling party. African Journal of Political Science, 7 (2), 99-112.

Statistics, N. B. o. and Office of Chief Government Statistian , Z. (2013) The 2012 Population and Housing Census:Population distribution by administrative units key findings. Dar es Salaam:

Illusions of Democracy: LSE Study on Mobile Phones and “Statebuilding”

[Image credit: UNHCR_Displacement in South Sudan A Camp Within a Camp, K.McKinsey/ January 2014; Here camp residents are charged $50 to power-up their mobile phones]

Recent research at the London School of Economics in South Sudan’s state of Equatoria, has revealed a complex picture of the impact of mobile phone technology in democracy.

Whilst mobile phones and social media had less of a role in South Sudan independence than they did in the so-called Arab Spring, they apparently are having an unexpected effect on political participation in the country.

The following findings were made:

People living in areas with mobile phone coverage, while more likely to feel well-informed and more likely to hold political and administrative leaders to account, were less likely to vote with a sense of being able to influence political change and no more or less likely to be satisfied with political and administrative leaders.’

‘In fact, it seems that those with mobile phone access are less likely to vote—because those in areas with coverage were more frustrated with the experience of the last election. Those living without mobile phone coverage had retained a sense that elections might bring change.’

This may seem alarming (undoubtedly shatters the perceptions of many about the transformative nature of mobile phone technology), and yet unsurprising. Is it not common wisdom that democracy (at least for those in countries that posses it, or aspire to it) is the best but flawed form of governance? There is an illusive quality to democracies everywhere, which will vary according to interpretation. Consider for instance the disaffection of many Western civic bodies with contemporary politics as demonstrated by poor voter turn out? Does cynicism  and disappointment come with increased in involvement in democracy? In South Africa the case of the ANC is perhaps symptomatic of this paradox.

On surface value the LSE report does not seem to distinguish between satisfaction and support for democracy or political actors and processes, on the one hand, and criticality of participants on the other. European Democracy researcher Han-Dieter Klingermann, based on a longitudinal study, suggests that at least a third of democrats in Europe support the idea of democracy, but are dissatisfied with its functioning.

The specific features of South Sudan today (long civil war, “resource curse”, communal tensions, political divides, threat of sanctions) certainly have little to do with Western democracy, yet the globality of mobile technology and social media in politics may yield the same generalization: democracy is illusory, but it is the only oasis we have.


Further reading:

Off the Hook: Can Mobile Phones Help with Statebuilding? LSE Blog.

Schomerus and Rigterink, ‘‘And Then He Switched off the Phone’: Mobile Phones, Participation and Political Accountability in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State,’ (2015).

Justice and Security Research Programme, South Sudan Survey Report, LSE (2013). 

Herman Wasserman, ‘Mobile phones, popular media and everyday African democracy: transmissions and transgressions,’ (2010).

Democracy Emerging/Submerged in Africa

From the Economist Intelligence Unit, via the Guardian, this collection of data describes some dynamics of democracy in Africa at present.

The intersections of authoritarian regimes and high voter registration and turnout is telling of the complex nature of democracy and what is means in different parts of the continent. If Mauritius is the Economist’s only ‘full democracy’ in Africa, then how easily can massive countries with histories and presents of raging inequality and conflict be comparable? It seems that hopeful candidates for good democratic indicators here include (outside the troubling case of South Africa) Namibia, Senegal and Ghana. Note also the leader hall of shame: oppressors and dictators driving their countries in a race to the bottom!

Guardian article here

Your comments on the content and presentation of this data are welcome!


Peace, Violence as Politics, and Elections in Mozambique

By Roberta Holanda Maschietto

On October 15, 48.68% of total registered Mozambicans went to the polls to take part of the country’s fifth general elections since the signing of a peace agreements in 1992. The final counting results were presented on October 30, after a recounting of 754,113 ballot papers considered invalid at pooling stations, and of which 174,164 were reconsidered valid. According to the data released, which also resembled numbers obtained in a parallel count, Frelimo’s candidate, Felipe Nyusi, won with 57% of the total valid votes; Renamo’s leader Dhlakama got second with 36.61%; whereas MDM candidate Daviz Simango obtained 6.36% of the votes. In parliament, Frelimo lost leverage compared to 2009, obtaining 144 seats, against 89 for Renamo and 17 for MDM. As for the provincial parliaments, Frelimo won 485 seats, Renamo 295 and MDM 31 (CIP/AWEPA, NE-74).

Both Renamo and MDM have rejected the results, pointing to the several irregularities that took place on the elections’ day and during the counting process. These acts included suspected ballot box stuffing, conflicting numbers of results sheets, as well as opposition ballots improperly made invalid by polling station staff (ibid.). The Carter Center and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), which had 87 observes deployed during the elections day noted that, in spite of the general calm atmosphere (and with due exception of sporadic episodes of violence), in several instances the observes did not have proper access to all the phases of the process. They also acknowledged lack of clarity regarding the technical procedures for the elections, including in the counting phase (Notícias, 29 Oct. 2014). As the results have just been released the situation is still sensitive, as Renamo has presented its own counting leading to a very different outcome. The situation does not contribute to what has been a very tense year in Mozambique.

Indeed, the year and a half leading to the elections was perhaps one of the politically tense in the country, since the peace negotiations. In April 2012, clashes between Renamo ex-combatants, Dhlakama’s ‘Presidential Guard’, and the government riot police took place in Nampula, then residence of the Renamo’s leader. In October 2012, Dhlakama moved to Gorongosa, where Renamo held its base during war times, making threats of resuming the war and dividing the country in two, and urging a revision of the peace accords (@ Verdade, 18 Oct. 2012). In 2013, reacting to the electoral law approved in December 2012, Renamo started to engage in a series of activities, which included: ambushes on cars, lorries and buses, as well as military convoys (AIM, 26 Feb. 2014b); the blocking of one of the main transport arteries of the country; and the boycott of the 2013 municipal elections, leading to Renamo’s further political isolation. Frelimo initially responded resorting to military power in order to contain the actions (Canalmoz, 11 Feb. 2014), but at the same time it pushed for negotiations, emphasising a conciliatory speech and the primacy of peace. To the surprise of several observers, Renamo’s strategy ultimately proved efficient and by February 2014 an agreements was reached regarding the change of the electoral law.

According to the 2012 electoral law, the National Elections Commission (NEC), in charge of organising the elections, would be constituted by 5 members of Frelimo, two from Renamo, and one from MDM, three nominees of civil society organisations, a judge appointed by the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistrature, and an attorney appointed by the Higher Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, totalling 13 members. Renamo fiercely opposed the law, pushing for parity between the number of members of Frelimo and Renamo in that body. The law at the time was already criticised by observers, due to the NEC’s politicisation, but the 2014 change was an even bigger disappointment. First, the deal between Renamo and Frelimo increased the number of members to 17, of which 5 would be from Frelimo, 4 from Renamo, 1 from MDM and the remaining 5 from civil society — therefore excluding the attorney and further politicising the body. Second, the deal included the reformulation of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the executive body responsible for implementing the elections, which now would also include political appointees. Finally, the deal was ‘agreed’ without previous consultation to the National Assembly, only later submitted for approval in a context of the urgent ‘spirit of reconciliation’, which, ultimately led to the concession of most of Renamo’s requests.

As noted by journalist Paul Fauvet, a long-term observer of Mozambique’s politics, “This destroys any hope of independent electoral bodies, rips up the electoral legislation passed by democratic vote in the Assembly in December 2012, and is a graphic reminder that when a political party loses in a vote, it can achieve what it wants through murder and mayhem”. Similar comments echoed in the press, to the point where Dhlakama’s actions were portrayed as a smart and efficient political move, in fact more efficient than when he tried to play ‘the respectable politician’, and won only 16.41% of the votes in 2009 (Allison, 2014).

It should be noted that the revision of the electoral law was only one of Dhlakama’s demands in order to stop the attacks. Other important issues included his demand for greater representation of Renamo in state institutions, in particular the armed forces and that Renamo be granted a more equitable share of the country’s natural resources. In this regard, a new peace agreement was signed in September.

In spite of a ‘victory’ in what was, after all, the first revision of the peace accords in 20 years, Renamo, more specifically, Dhlakama, stayed far behind in the votes counting. Whilst performing better than the 2009 elections, and even taking into account the series of irregularities that took place during the elections, the results suggest that the majority of Mozambicans are not yet convinced of the ex-rebel leaders abilities as a politician to rule the country (and would they, after he resumed violence?). After all, in spite of rampant poverty, Mozambique’s economy is growing, investors are coming in, and over ‘7 million’ meticais are reaching the over 128 rural districts every year since 2006, for the first time allowing many poor people to have access to credit. Additionally, and in spite of Dhlakama’s claims (once more) of his role in bringing peace to the country, president Guebuza was also credited for the peace deal revisions and his ability to avoid the escalation of conflict (Low-Vaudran, 2014), which partly also contributed to strengthen people’s confidence in Frelimo.

How to assess these elections and its contribution for the country’s peace and stability remains an open subject, as the elections’ results have just being released and yet many irregularities are still under investigation. The events that precede the elections however clearly point to the fact that democracy in Mozambique is not yet the only game in town, and, even though Renamo may not have resources to engage into a full scale war, it can still seriously obstruct the country’s functioning and scare investors, therefore compromising the benefits brought by peace.

At the same time, and whereas Renamo’s acts were an important reminder that the peace dividend needs to be reassessed, unfortunately this reassessment did not consider the vast majority of Mozambicans. Instead, it was clearly focused on Renamo’s and its old comrades’ share of the deal. Whereas peace as non-violence is indeed a treasure to be cherished, peace as substantial change of power is by far a more complicated process and it is a wonder if it could always be achieved by non-violent means.


@ Verdade (18 Out. 2012). Dhlakama ameaça voltar à Guerra. Available at:, accessed: 03 Apr. 2014.

AIM (12 Feb. 2014). Mozambique: Government Agrees to Politicise STAE. Available at:, accessed: 29 Oct. 2014.

AIM (26 Feb. 2014a). Assembly Passes Renamo Amendments On General Elections. Available at:, accessed: 27 Feb. 2014.

AIM (26 Feb. 2014b). Renamo Attacks Military Convoy in Gorongosa. Available at:, accessed: 27 Feb. 2014.

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