Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

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Democracy and Multiparty Politics in Africa Recent Elections in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho

Denis Venter


The shift from one-party to multiparty politics in many African countries has made the issue of democratisation a crucially equally important part of the development agenda. Efforts to create an economically enabling environment and build administrative and other capacities will be wasted if the political context is not favourable. This article1 focuses on political developments in Zambia to illustrate how a government elected on a `democratic ticket' can become corrupted by the conscious development of a personality cult, and how the hunger for power can lead to the erosion of democratic values, electoral fraud, and the near breakdown of a relatively well-functioning multiparty system. A brief note on Zimbabwe is presented to amplify the Zambian case, and reform of the electoral system in Lesotho is outlined to suggest that the successful completion of elections on 25 May 2002 may serve as an excellent example of how, and under what conditions, `free and fair', multiparty elections can be conducted in an African country.

(Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review: 2003 19(1): 1-40)
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