A new year brings renewed hope and offers an opportunity for resolutions. Many Africans are looking forward to a 2023 of better fortunes and pray that the New Year ushers in the beginning of a better Africa.
For Africans and all those who have the progress of the continent at heart, a better Africa refers to one with good leaders. It is no longer news that Africa suffers a severe leadership problem.
A majority of the challenges the continent faces to date can be linked to poor leadership, and an election provides citizens with the opportunity to change their current leaders and correct the ills evident in their societies through the elections of competent representatives in political positions.
In 2023, half a dozen presidential elections will be held across the continent of Africa, and it looks like a busy for not these countries alone but the continent in general.
Below, we have highlighted six elections that we believe will define Africa in the New Year.
Nigeria: Saturday, 25 February 2023
Africa's most populous Black nation, Nigeria, will be going to pools on Saturday, 25 February 2023, to vote for a new president. The election will see the country get a new president in eight years since the current president of the country, Muhammadu Buhari, is ineligible to contest the elections due to tenure expiration.
Elections in Nigeria have always been major shakers in Africa, and critics are looking forward to another landmark election, albeit with fewer reports of election malpractice and violence which have characterized previous pools in the elections.
The front runners in the upcoming elections are former governor of Lagos State and leader of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, a former vice president of the country, Atiku Abubakar, and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi. The election is expected to be keenly contested.
Sierra Leone: Saturday, 24 June 2023
In June this year, Sierra Leone would hold its presidential and parliamentary elections where the incumbent president Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) would seek a second term in office against candidates from other parties including the All people's Congress (APC).
Despite the lack of support for the government from some sections of the country owning to poor living conditions and corruption in the government, Sierra Leone's ruling party would be looking at retaining the seat of the presidency and a majority of the seats in the national assembly.
You will recall that in the last elections in 2012, the then main opposition, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) selected former military Head of State, retired Brigadier general Julius Maada Bio as its presidential candidate at the party's national convention held on 15 November 2017 in Freetown, who would later emerge victorious.
Members of Parliament will be elected by proportional representation after a presidential decree by Julius Maada Bio in October 2022 abolished the first-past-the-post system that had been used since 2008.
Zimbabwe: July or August 2023
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to announce the exact date for the vote, but it has revealed that it will be held in either July or August. The 2018 election took place on 31 July.
The main political parties for the 2023 elections remain the Zanu-PF, which has been in power since independence in 1980, and the opposition Citizens Coalition For Change (CCC), formed early this year and led by the veteran politician Nelson Chamisa.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be hoping to overcome a new challenge by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa whose Citizens Coalition for Change outfit has sought to galvanize the opposition and to correct what he claims are the mistakes of 2018.
The Zimbabwe government consists of an elected head of state, the president, and a legislature. The presidential term lasts for 5 years, and is elected by majority, with a second round if no candidate receives a majority in the first round. The Parliament is bicameral, consisting of the House of Assembly and the Senate.
Gabon: August 2023
Although the official date for the Gabon presidential elections has not been announced, it is believed to hold in August this year since the last elections were held in August.
The incumbent president Ali Bongo will be seeking re-election after tacit endorsement by members of his Gabonese Democratic Party. Despite suffering a stroke that left him struggling to walk, the ruling party appears unwilling to retire its 63-year-old leader. The Bongo family has ruled over oil-rich Gabon since 1967.
However, in what critics have labeled a move by the president to silence the opposition and maintain a stronghold in power, the Gabonese authorities have jailed Sosthene Orphee Lendjedi Ibola, a top opposition presidential candidate, on terrorism charges.
The leader of Orientation Nouvelle [New Orientation] was arrested on 10 November 2022 in the capital Libreville and sent to prison on 15 November 2022. The arrest came a few months after returning home after six-year exile in Canada and the United States of America.
He was heard two times, 14 November 2022 and 15 November 2022, by the Public Prosecutor in connection with a fire at Oyem stadium, in the town of Oyem, in April 2020. Authorities charge for calling for uprising, destruction of public facility, and for fomenting a terrorist organization.
Liberia: 10 October 2023
Africa's oldest republic, Liberia, is set to hold its presidential and parliamentary elections in October this year. President George Weah has faced criticism for failing to tackle rampant corruption and for being away from the country to watch the World Cup in Qatar and his son, who is flying the flag of the United States of America, while the country faced an economic downturn.
President Weah will be running for another term against stiff opposition, including Nathaniel Barnes, a former Liberian ambassador to the United States (2008–2010) who announced his intention to run for the presidency as an independent candidate in January 2022.
In Liberia, the president is elected using the two-round system, whilst the 73 members of the House of Representatives are elected by first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies.
DR Congo: 20 December 2023
General elections are expected to be held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 20 December, 2023 according to the electoral calendar released 26 November 2022 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).
President Felix Tshisekedi would be seeking a second term in office. Having fallen out with his predecessor, whose support secured the presidency for him, Tshisekedi will have to find new allies to face an opposition that has long been doing its preps.
A strong opposition leader, Moise Katumbi, has already declared intent to run. The last presidential poll, its first democratic transition, was delayed by two years until it was finally held in December 2018. In that vote, President Felix Tshisekedi took over from his longstanding predecessor Joseph Kabila.