Causal factors of election violence in Africa : a comparative analysis of Kenya´s 2007 elections and Zimbabwe´s 2008 elections

Timmer, Sanne (2012-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Africa has made tremendous progress over the past decades in its transition to democratic regimes. When evaluating the leverage such an enormous change has, and the haste Africa was in when making this change, the continent has been able to achieve a considerable amount of revision in their regimes. One fundamental aspect of a democracy is competitive Presidential elections. This has however shown to be a problem in Africa as many cases of violent elections have been reported on, with Nigeria’s 2011 elections being the latest example. The focus of this thesis is on the causal factors behind electoral violence in African democracies. More specifically, a comparative analysis of Kenya’s 2007 Elections and Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections is presented. The five possible causal factors under analysis are 1) free and fair elections, 2) international assistance, 3) political/electoral systems and 4) socio-economic factors and 5) ethnicity. Additionally, background information on the history of Kenya and Zimbabwe is presented. The research is conducted around the framework of one of the foremost African scholars in the field, Gilbert Khadiagala. His typology suggests two angles ‘In the first order of causes, electoral violence is the outcome of events and circumstances that emanate from broader political conflicts, particularly in societies that are beset by ethnic, communal and sectarian fissures. In the second category, electoral violence is a consequence of imperfect electoral rules; imperfections that allow some parties to manipulate elections through electoral fraud, vote buying, and rigging’ (Khadiagala, 2010:17). Next to this a discussion on Khadiagala’s fourth wave of democracy is analysed which proves of major importance for Kenya and Zimbabwe to prevent election violence. Not only because of the fact that the contemporary form of their democracies clearly show major flaws, but also because a democracy has proved to encourage socio-economic development. Firstly, the findings suggest that the people are fed up with stolen elections and they are demanding the free and fair conduct of elections. The use of violence is the means to express this ‘demand’. Furthermore, in both Kenya and Zimbabwe, the land occupation of colonizers caused the start of deep social cleavages and ethnic tensions. In Kenya it is concluded that the cause of violence was not purely the flawed election process, this was merely a trigger for underlying ethnic tensions. In Zimbabwe in turn, the violence was mainly sparked by President Mugabe’s government who used extreme means to gain votes. The system was highly manipulated and due to weak institutions and electoral rules, President Mugabe was able to rig the elections. The role of international assistance is discussed and proves to be of little influence towards election violence. In the case of Zimbabwe, no international observers were invited, in the case of Kenya, international observers were invited and present. In both cases violence broke out. The establishment of a stronger socio-economic society proves vital for the development of a democracy. The connection between ethnic, social and economic differences to the electoral system recognizes that further deepening and strengthening of the democratic institutions needs to become a reality in order to conduct more peaceful elections. The elections are far from free and fair and as a result of weak democratic institutions the possibility of rigging is created. With the underlying ethnic tensions and broader political cleavages, Kenya and Zimbabwe proved prone to violence.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Wanneer daar in ag geneem word dat Afrika onder moeilike omstandighede en in ‘n baie kort tydperk, beweeg het van meerderheid autokratiese state na demokrasieë, is dit regverdig om te argumenteer dat Afrika ‘n kenmerkende vordering gemaak het in die laaste dekades om ‘n demokratiese samenleving te berwerkstellig. Helaas, n fundamentele aspek van n demokrasie is die beoefening van gereelde en kompeterend verkiesings. Oor die jare is daar bewys dat verkiesings n problematiese aspek van demokrasie is in meeste Afrika state, meerderheid van verkiesings in Afrika is geneig om uit te loop in konflik en geweld. Dus is die fokus van die studie op die faktore wat bydra tot konflik gedurende n verkiesings tydperk in jong Afrika demokrasieë. Meer spesifiek sal daar n vergelykende studie gedoen word van die 2007 verkiesing in Kenia en die 2008 verkiesing in Zimbabwe. Die vyf faktore wat bydra tot konflik gedurende verkiesings is : 1) vry en regverdige verkiesings, 2) internasionale hulpvelening, 3) politiese en verkiesingsstelsels, 4) sosio-ekonomiese faktore, 5) etnisiteit, word elk bespreek. Ook word die agtergrond van beide die verkiesings in Zimbabwe en Kenia bespreek. Die teoretiese aspekte van die studie is gebaseer op die werk van Gilbert Khadiagala, n hoogs ge-respekteerde kenner op die gebied. Sy teorie veronderstel dat konflik plaasvind as gevolg van politiek konflikte en etniese verskille. Tweedens, beweer hy dat verkiesingskonflik n produk is van foutiewe verkiesingsstelsels, veral waar een groep die ander groep kan manipuleer en waar bedrog moontlik is. Langs dit is 'n bespreking oor Khadiagala se vierde golf van demokrasie ontleed en bewys dit van groot belang vir Kenia en Zimbabwe om verkiesings geweld te voorkom. Nie net as gevolg van die feit dat die demokrasieë duidelik groot foute toon nie, maar ook en meer belangrik, omdat 'n demokrasie sosio-ekonomiese ontwikkeling aanmoedig. Daar word gevind dat meeste mense eenvoudig keelvol is met ‘gesteelde’ verkiesings en dat hulle begin aandring op vry en regverdige verkiesings en konflik en geweld is die enigste manier om hulle wense te verwesenlik. Ook, in beide Kenia en Zimbabwe het kolonialiseerders n groot skeuring veroorsaak tussen verskillende etniese groepe in beide lande, wat vandag voordurende etniese spanning veroorsaak. In Kenia blyk dit dat dit die etniese verskille was wat gelei het tot die verkiesingsgeweld in 2007 eerder as foutiewe verkiesingsstelsels. In Zimbabwe was dit verkiesingskorrupsie en President Robert Mugabe se oneerlike wyse van stemme werf wat gelei het tot konflik. Dit is aangetoon dat die aanwesigheid van internationale hulp min invloed het op verkiesings geweld. In die geval van Zimbabwe, is daar geen internasionale waarnemers genooi nie en in die geval van Kenia, is daar wel internasionale waarnemers is genooi en was hulle daadwerklik aanwesig. In beide gevalle het geweld uitgebreek. Daar word gevind dat ‘n sterke sosio-ekonomiese sameleving belangrik is vir demokratiese ontwikkling van ‘n land. Verder word daar geargumenteer dat sterk en onafhanklik politieke en demokratiese instansies bevorder moet word ten einde meer vreedsame verkiesings te hou. Tans in Afrika is verkiesings ver van vry en regverdig, gesamentlik met etniese spanning kan dit n plofbare situasie veroorsaak soos bewys in Kenia en Zimbabwe.

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