Why the ‘third-term debate’ matters and the difficulties in finding resolution

By Terence Corrigan[1]

Analysis in Brief | Constitutional amendments to prolong the tenure in office of incumbent presidents pose challenges to democracy and constitutionalism in Africa. This phenomenon is poorly understood, and options for dealing with this occurrence are limited.

Key Points:

  • Prolonging presidential terms is a growing phenomenon in Africa, at odds with efforts on the continent to forge a governance culture rooted in democracy and constitutionalism
  • Term extensions do not threaten the existence of democracy and constitutionalism but are profoundly debasing them, undermining their ability to demand accountability and allowing personalised politics to develop
  • Attempts at countering this practice have met with mixed success and, ultimately, concerns about long-term incumbency is an expression of concerns for a broader environment of weak institutions and problematic political culture

Profound uncertainty surrounds Zimbabwe, as President Robert Mugabe refuses to leave office despite vocal demands to do so by civil society and political parties (including his own), and the intervention of the military. Having held power for 37 years, Mugabe has been the central figure in his country’s political life. His interests and outlook have shaped the contours of politics in Zimbabwe, with some deeply damaging consequences for governance: corruption, the personalisation of power, the atrophy of institutions and political processes, and the growth of insidious patronage networks. A post-Mugabe Zimbabwe will have to reckon with the impact of these pathologies for years to come. This is a stark warning about the dangers of extended incumbency – something that is challenging democracy and constitutionalism throughout the continent.

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Top 10 technologically advanced countries in Africa

African countries have a long road to travel to advance to the level of technological capacity common in the developed world. However, some African countries are making strides to boost their communications infrastructure, establish ‘technology parks’ and increase spending on research and development. Most of this government-sponsored activity is done in conjunction with efforts to diversify economies away from dependency on commodities and towards more industrialisation. Once the groundwork has been established and the private sector accepts that a country is serious about becoming more technologically savvy, then private investment can enter to further boosts technology advancement.

The Ebene Cyber Tower located in Ebene Cybercity in Port Louis, Mauritius. Construction began in 2001, with the suburb being promoted as a new information technology hub for Mauritius and as a link between African and Asian markets.
Image courtesy Jean François Koenig, Wikimedia Commons

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The Africa Country Benchmark Report (ACBR) 2017

The Africa Country Benchmark Report (ACBR) is the definitive resource for understanding Africa, providing comprehensive assessments of all 54 African countries. The report scores, ranks and insightfully assesses each country holistically, as well as across business, economic, political and social factors, all presented in an 800-page infographic-driven publication.

View the ACBR intro video below or click here for more information on the ACBR.

IOA at a glance

Over the past decade, In On Africa (IOA) has positioned itself as one of the top research, intelligence and publishing firms in and focused exclusively on Africa. The company works with a wide array of clients across the African continent through its complementary divisions, service offerings and insight-driven products.

The infographic provides a snapshot of IOA – its core offerings, mission, values, vision and key differentiators.