Southern Africa – Elections

I have been in Swaziland, in South Africa, in Botswana, in Tanzania and in Zambia for the elections.

Swaziland was different as it is a kingdom… so they do not elect the ruler of the country… It is in a way a simple yet more complex election…More details for another post, but in essence, you do not feel that there are any elections… I only knew because I took an hitch hiker (…) who was working for the Census office…

Otherwise, in every other country, the atmosphere is pretty much the same everywhere:

Up to the elections, a feeling of party – lots of meetings, music, dancing, drinking (unfortunately). Cars are going around with the candidates face all over, with big megaphones broadcasting music or slogans (reminds me of the announcement for the next show coming to town…). Flags of the parties can be seen everywhere going through towns & villages. Makes me think of soccer games finales. When attending a meeting, the whole village become deserted

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The elections are very well attended – people dress-up very proudly, like we do for special occasions. The day of elections are generally quiet. Having said that, I have followed recommendations of not going to much to town on those days. Obviously, there are the recommendations, and then, there is the reality of life… In Botswana for example, I was staying with people from the village, so… I spent the day with them…

On the evening after elections, there might be some troubles, especially in major towns. You can see the next day traces of burnt tyres and more rubbish burnt and spread around in some places. But in general, the atmosphere is fairly quiet. Not quite what we hear in the news. At least not for the general population. Maybe that is because I have not been to ‘hot’ areas… But then, I still had a normal life and never felt threatened… So, like everywhere, the news report incidents that do happen, but are more localised than we can be lead to believe…

The day of the election is a a holiday. So is the day of the inauguration and the half day before (to prepare for the big day).

Having said that, the reports in Zambia were ones of potential outburst of violence. That people have been killed. Those are very likely to be true. But life in Lusaka is unchanged as far as general life is concerned. Over 2 weeks post election. Despite contradicted results. And a petition filled with the Supreme Court. More specifics on Zambian elections in a separate post…

The one advice that I did follow: do not attend the inauguration. At first, I was told that if I wanted to go, then I needed to go with one of the local staff guy. But then, advice was not to attend altogether… so, I followed on TV…

 

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