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The East African : May 3rd 2015
6 The EastAfrican NEWS MAY 2-8,2015 Vote≥s standing up fo≥ te≥m limits in Af≥ica ANALYSIS TREVOR ANALO “A new civic-minded voter is emerging in Africa, one who is not passive as politicians disregard the law.” a third presidential term, are just part of a broader wave of uprisings across Africa where an increasingly politically aware public — thought to be too poor or too ethnically minded to engage in protest politics that leads to social transformation — is using uprisings, protests and revolts as its political currency. A new civic-minded voter is T emerging in Africa, one who is not willing to remain passive as politicians disregard the law. Last year, Burkina Faso made in- ternational headlines when protestors set fire to the country’s parliament during violent demostrations against the country’s legislators’ attend to increase the presidential term limits to three, which would have paved the way for then president Blaise Compaore — who came to power in 1987 — to prolong his he public demonstrations in Burundi by citizens opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza running for stay in power. Parliament’s in- tentions sparked a massive revolt from Burkinabes who gathered in the capital, Ouagadougou, and the second biggest city, Bobo Dioulasso, forcing Compaore to resign after 27 years in power. In the 1990s when African coun- tries were introducing democratic reforms, term limits were introduced too to end the undemocratic phenomenon of “life presidents.” Burkina Faso and Burundi are part of a wider trend in Africa in the past few years where presidents introduced term limits only to scrap them for personal interests. Compaore, interestingly, was the first to have the term limits scrapped in 1997 and later reinstated them in 2000 after political pressure. ‘Big Man Syndrome’ Through the late 1990s to the early 2000s, six other presidents joined Compaore in bringing back the “Big Man Syndrome” of African politics by removing term limits. In 1999, Namibia’s Sam Nujoma won a referendum to increase the presidential terms to three. Omar Bongo of Gabon followed suit in 2003, Lansana Conté of Guinea in low him to run for a third term. In 2006, supporters of then Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo failed to push through a constitutional amendment to give him an extra term. Niger’s Mamadou Tandja’s at- tempts to extend his rule resulted in a coup while Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal was rejected by voters in the 2012 elections when he forced his way onto the ballot after serving two terms. Last days Today, a number of African Demonstrators protest in Bujumbura on April 27 against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in power. Picture: File 2003, Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo in 2002, and Zine el Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia in 2002. Uganda’s President Yoweri Mu- seveni started the second wave of scrapping term limits in the mid 2000s. As he was nearing the end of his second term after his election in 2001, Museveni won a referendum in 2005 to remove term limits. The same year, Idris Deby of Chad also scrapped term limits, and so did Paul Biya of Cameroon in 2008 and Abdelazziz Bouteflika of Algeria the same year. Some presidents also unsuccess- fully attempted to have their constitutions changed to allow them an additional term in office. Zambia’s Frederick Chiluba’s quest for a third term in 2001 was successfully opposed by the opposition and his own party. In 2003, Malawi’s Bakili Muluzi also unsuccessfully campaigned for a constitutional amendment to al- presidents are in the last days of their administrations and some are openly planning to extend their stay in power while others are doing it discreetly to minimise the risks of an internal revolt like that in Bukina Faso. In Rwanda, allies of President Paul Kagame are urging him to stay on as his second term comes to an end in 2016. His critics have no doubt that the president’s allies will do anything that is politically feasible to put his name on the ballot — already they are calling for a referendum to gauge public opinion. Sanctions and aid suspension may not be a big deterrent to African presidents bent on scrapping term limits, but increasingly, internal mass revolts from outraged citizens are. Aid-dependent Bu≥undi ≥isking dono≥ sanctions By JULIUS BARIGABA The EastAfrican THE PRE-ELECTION violence and protests in Burundi are a setback for a country that according to World Bank estimates, had seen its gross domestic product rise to $3.037 billion last year, up from $2.5 billion in 2012 on the back of major reforms in doing business. The reforms helped Bu- rundi register $265 millions worth of new investments last year, up from $128 million in 2010. Prior to these reforms in 2009, the country registered investments averaging $10-20 million annually. Burundi’s tax body, Of- fice Burundais des Recettes (OBR), at the start of this year reported that tax revenues were expected to rise 10.2 per cent to BIF720 billion ($468.9 million) in 2015, thanks to tax reforms. In 2014, OBR collected BIF653.7 billion ($425.7 million). The increasing revenues will enable the country to cut back its dependence on donors who fund nearly half of its $970 million budget. In addition, donors fund up to 76 per cent of some projects. While announcing rev- enue projections for 2015 early this year, OBR officials pegged better tax collection on increased consumption and the fight against corruption in the tax administration system. The projected revenues will marginally reduce donor aid to the BIF679.8 billion ($442.7 million) this year, from BIF707.8 billion ($461 million) the country’s Treasury received in 2014. In 2014, OBR collected BIF 653.7 billion ($425.7 million). Finance Minister Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza also remains optimistic that economic growth this year will reach 5.4 per cent. But busi- POSITIVES Public investments in agriculture should lead to an estimated growth of 5.3 per cent in the primary sector, while industry will expand by 5.8 per cent, following public investment worth 3.85 per cent of GDP in energy and infrastructure projects. ness people in the capital Bujumbura say the protests and violence could precipitate slow economic activity as already evident from lowered consumption and fuel shortages. Forecast Global Risk Insight (GRI), an international organisation that provides expert analysis on political events impacting business, investment, and economic climates worldwide, cautioned that while government forecasts are accurate, a lot will depend on how Bujumbura manages the period before, during and after the June elections. Most project aid is given under strict conditionalities, including a non-violent election process. With the recent political violence, donors freezing or cancelling aid to some of the projects is probable, GRI warned. “A number of risks re- lated to the election process threaten the implementation and completion of these projects. Given the high percentage of donor-funded investment, this could potentially have a significant impact on growth,” it said.
Apr 27th 2015
May 10th 2015