Ethiopia Celebrates Unity as Divisions Deepen

On 16th October 2017, Ethiopia celebrated its 10th annual National Flag Day. The celebration was created by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) with the purpose of promoting unity between Ethiopia’s different ethnic groups and the corresponding parties that make up the ruling coalition. This year’s celebration committee supervisor described National Flag Day as “an occasion to strengthen Ethiopian people’s diversity through unity”; a principle strongly associated with Ethiopia’s ‘Ethnic Federalism’. However, it seems that this model of government is under increasing strain and, with growing discontent in the country’s largest region, the EPRDF will have to do much more than celebrate National Flag Day to ensure unity.

In August 2017, the government lifted a 10-month state of emergency, which was heavily criticised by human rights groups for encouraging mass detentions and politically-motivated criminal charges. The government announced the state of emergency in response to a year of protests, which, although spread to various regions, originated in the Oromia region – home to the country’s largest ethnic group (Oromo). Although the Oromia region is represented in the EPRDF coalition by the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), many Oromo people felt that they had been omitted from the political process and Ethiopia’s economic development. There is a widely held perception that Tigrayan people, whose party – the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – holds a dominant position in the ruling coalition, have disproportionate political influence and have therefore benefitted more from the country’s development. While the state of emergency quelled the protests in Oromia, it appears that tensions are once again rising in the region and the EPRDF has done very little to live up to its promise of reform.

September saw a rise in clashes between Oromo and Somali people along the disputed border between the two regions. A significant number of both Oromo and Somali people were killed during the clashes and thousands more were displaced. The UN has estimated that 43,000 people have fled their homes in the region; however, regional government officials have claimed that the number is higher. The Prime Minister – Hailemariam Desalegn – responded by ordering the withdrawal of regional security forces, some of which were blamed for perpetuating the violence, and sent the National Army to restore order. Although clashes between the two ethnic groups are not new, the response of the regional governments was unfamiliar. The Somali People’s Democratic Party (SPDP), which also comes under the EPRDF umbrella, accused the OPDO of inciting ethnic violence and supporting a terrorist organisation, and the OPDO responded in kind. Moreover, many Oromo political activists alleged that the TPLF was behind the violence to keep Oromia weak and unstable. Although this seems highly unlikely, the perception, whether real or imagined, will cause ethnic tensions to rise and increase pressure on the EPRDF’s ethnic federalist model.

Additionally, October saw the re-emergence of anti-government protests in the Oromia region, with many protestors focusing on the alleged “Somali invasion of Oromia”. Large numbers have been reported at the demonstrations, such as on 12th October, where more than 15,000 people reportedly protested in Woliso. Although the majority of protests have been peaceful, it was reported that 6 people were killed in clashes with the security forces on 11th October. Many Oromo political activists have claimed that this violence was instigated by the TPLF, which further demonstrates the growing ethnic tension in Ethiopia. Significantly, following this new wave of protests, the Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives and one of the founders of the OPDO – Abadula Gemeda – resigned from his position. He reportedly stated that he resigned because “my people and party were disrespected”. He is one of the highest-ranking government officials to have resigned since the EPRDF assumed power in 1991 and his decision signals a significant breakdown in the relationship between the OPDO and its EPRDF partners, especially the TPLF.

The government appears to be unsure on how to react to the growing tensions in the Oromia region. It seems that it is reluctant to revert to a heavy-handed approach but also unwilling to adopt reforms which could subdue the protests. As ethnic tensions continue to rise and Oromia becomes a larger problem, the longevity of the EPRDF’s ‘Ethnic Federalism’ will be challenged. For the EPRDF, it is essential that Ethiopia maintains its economic growth and that it ensures that all of its regions, and particularly Oromia, feel the benefits of development.


Prepare 4 Africa

Nairobi Cityscape

Culture Shock!

Habari yako? – your news? Habari za familia? – news of your family?  Habari za leo? – news of your day.  Za kazi? – of work?  Za safari – of your journey? And it goes on.  When will the questions end?

You are in Kenya, negotiating an oil concession.  You don’t have time for these extended niceties.  And, anyway, you don’t know how to respond.  In a hurry, you move on to business, ignoring the bafflement on the ministry official’s face.

As you leave, your host walks you to the car park.  He takes your hand in his and won’t let go.  This is unexpected.  You withdraw your hand, as tactfully as possible.  Your host again looks offended.

Your driver talks incessantly about “tribes”.  Why the obsession? Who cares about a person’s background?  What relevance is it to an oil company in Kenya?  This sounds like prejudice to your ears.

A policeman pulls you over and leans into the passenger side window.  “Habari?”, he smiles.  Here we go again – but he quickly gets to the point.  He’d like a “soda”, or some “chai”.  Why is he telling you?  Your driver is nervous,– he hands the policeman something and whispers “I will add it to the fare”.  Has something wrong just happened?

In your hotel room, you relax – until the phone rings.  The man who sold you air-time on the street this morning has just come by to “greet you”.  Habari!  How does he know where you are staying? What does he want? How do you respond?

You haven’t made time to see the baby elephants or the giraffe centre on the outskirts of town.  Or to visit the new Caramel Restaurant that everyone was talking about.  Despite this, you were pleased to leave Nairobi.  The problem is that the man from the ministry now refuses to take your calls.  Maybe you should have held his hand?

Find out with our Prepare 4 Africa (P4A) training courses.  Designed for first-time business visitors to Africa, P4A is a hands-on, practical one-day course that will help ensure your business trip to Africa is pleasurable and profitable.  You will learn about, amongst other things: the protocol of business meetings; the importance of greetings; recognition and mitigation of corruption; personal security; the best places to stay, visit and eat in your chosen destination; how to get about safely and quickly; and the language of negotiation.  Courses can cater for one to ten people and are delivered by experienced lecturers in African cultures.  Please contact us on or visit our website for further details.

Uganda Election 2016

MC3_8518 - Uganda- KampalaAfrica Integrity have complied a report on Uganda’s upcoming election and its likely aftermath.

This year’s election seems to be the closest fought contest in recent history and political tensions are running high. Moreover, it appears that both the government and the opposition expect, and are seemingly preparing for, widespread instability following the election.

To a request a copy of this report please contact us.

Elections in 2016

There are a number of important elections across Africa scheduled for 2016 and over the next year, Africa Integrity Insights will examine a selection of these. As an introduction to the upcoming publications we have compiled a list of countries where elections are set to take place in 2016, including the scheduled date (when available) and the type of election.

  • Benin: Presidential (28th February)
  • Burkina Faso: Municipal (31st January)
  • Cape Verde: Parliamentary and Presidential (February & August)
  • Central African Republic: Parliamentary and Presidential Run-off (31st January)
  • Chad: Presidential (April)
  • Côte d’Ivoire: Parliamentary (December)
  • Comoros: Presidential (21st February)
  • Congo-Brazzaville: Presidential (20th March)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: Legislative and Presidential (27th November)
  • Djibouti: Presidential (April)
  • Equatorial Guinea: Presidential (November)
  • Gabon: Parliamentary and Presidential (December)
  • Gambia: Presidential (1st December)
  • Ghana: Parliamentary and Presidential (7th November)
  • Niger: Parliamentary & Presidential and Local (21st February & 9th May)
  • Rwanda: Local Government (8th, 22nd & 27th February and 22nd March)
  • Sao Tome and Principe: Presidential (July)
  • Senegal: Constitutional Referendum (May)
  • South Africa: Municipal (May-August)
  • Sudan: Darfur Referendum (11th April)
  • Tanzania: Zanzibar Re-run (20th March)
  • Tunisia: Municipal and Regional (30th October)
  • Uganda: General (18th February)
  • Zambia: Legislative and Presidential (11th August)

Dispatches From Africa

Ethiopia: Development or Democracy?

AU Ethiopia

Emma Hooper writes from Addis Ababa:

The African Union (AU) Headquarters sit to the east of Addis Ababa, a handsome array of buildings that symbolise a new era for the Continent, one of stabilisation and unity. Yet its foundations lie on a dark past, a past many visitors may not be aware of, for it has quite literally been buried beneath 24 floors of concrete.

The site is that of the former Addis Ababa Kerchele prison and its torture centre, ‘Alem Bekagn’, built in the 1930s during Italy’s brief occupation of Ethiopia. As such, the AU buildings now lay at the epicentre of where Rodolfo Graziani conducted mass executions, slaughtering a whole generation of young Ethiopians. Just 50 years later, the same site witnessed some of the worst atrocities of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s reign of terror – a full account of which can be found in a dark corner of the Red Terror museum in central Addis Ababa. The bulldozing of the prison’s walls in 2011 has metaphorically wiped out a section of the country’s past, a commonplace tendency of post-colonial elites attempting to suppress the memory of state sponsored violence. Moreover, such a tendency may be particularly unfortunate in Ethiopia, where state violence is not a thing of the past – most recently explicated in the killing of 75 protesters on 19 December 2015. Indeed, the country’s civil society remains under a government stranglehold and the opposition is increasingly and brutally marginalised.

Although the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) regime has not committed the mass atrocities carried out by the Derg, it is certainly one underlined by repressive legislation and widespread abuses. This is all too apparent when broaching the topic of politics in the capital, where attempts to discuss the current regime are regarded suspiciously and questions are left largely un-answered. I sensed that in many cases this was fear for, rather than support of, the incumbent regime. However, outside of Addis Ababa people are not so reluctant to discuss politics –  a group of students I spoke to even seemed sure there would be an uprising. With the current government having held power through a succession of dubious elections and an increasingly marginalised opposition, there appears to be a growing sense in the provinces amongst the younger generation that “something must be done”. Yet, with one of the strongest armies in sub-Saharan Africa, any such uprising is likely to be matched with superior force and quickly quelled.

Despite salient abuses by the Ethiopian state, investment and aid are still free flowing. Addis Ababa is a city under construction, the most recent feat being the completion of the wholly Chinese funded light rail system that runs from the city centre out to the industrial heartland. This is an impressive project which signals the direction in which the country is heading and is part of the government’s 25-year development “master plan” to extend the capital. However, this development model has already resulted in forced evictions, land grabs and the marginalisation of the Oromia region, the inhabitants of which were involved in the most recent violent protests. With the Prime Minister, Hailermariam Desalegn, promising further reprisals for protesters – a clear message has been sent to all; that industrialisation will occur in Ethiopia and at the expense of its citizens.  Unfortunately, any escalation in such abuses is unlikely to waiver continued external investment, especially with regard to Cino-Ethiopian relations. Nor are continued human rights abuses likely to prompt any serious ramifications in Ethiopia’s relations with the AU or its regional neighbours, which means that the country is likely to continue continue on its current trajectory.

Furthermore, with a strong army and an anti-terrorist strategy that could provide a useful model to it’s regional neighbours, Ethiopia is proving an increasingly popular tourist destination. And indeed, Addis Ababa is bustling with tourists – whether visiting Lucy at the National Museum of Ethiopia or enjoying the country’s jazz scene – there is a real sense that the city is alive. Additionally, donor aid has continued to flood into the country whose propensity to famine was first brought to the world’s attention in the 1980s when Bob Geldolf embarked on a mission to “save” Africa. Today, aid has continued to flood into the country with international donors seemingly preferring development to democracy.  As such, with ever-increasing tourism, investment and donor aid, Ethiopia is likely to witness continued economic development and political stability – created through oppressive totalitarianism – at human cost.

It seems that if the new AU building were viewed as a memorial of the past, rather than an erasure of it, it would allow visitors to question past atrocities in light of the present. Indeed, since the abolition of Cecil Rhode’s statue in a South African University, the topic of “reckoning with the past” has become a particularly pertinent one. It may be tenuous to suggest that in building the AU on the grounds of a former prison, it is a sign that the Pan-African institution is simultaneously refusing to acknowledge Ethiopia’s present as well as its past. So too would it be to suggest that had the prison stayed intact, the AU Elections Observer Mission may not have refused to mention the widespread human rights abuses that surrounded Ethiopia’s elections in June 2015. However, the ripping down of past symbols that could act as a stark mirror and reminder to the present seems to me to be an unfortunate one.

Dispatches From Africa

Change They Can’t Believe In


Julian Fisher writes from Dar es Salaam:

As I write, it appears that Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM – Party of the Revolution) is about to demonstrate once again a truth that Africa’s post-independence ruling parties seem to grasp instinctively and opposition parties forget too readily: that it’s older and rural voters that win elections, not excitable, noisy, urban youths.

It remains too early (as of the morning of 28th October) to call the election decisively, but the direction of travel is clear. With 113 of 264 constituencies declared, CCM candidate John Pombe Magufuli has opened up a lead in the hundreds of thousands and CCM maintains a comfortable majority of Bunge seats. The more optimistic CCM campaigners, claiming to have seen all constituency returns – verified and unverified – are suggesting a final tally for their man of 65%, which would be an improvement on CCM ‘s position in 2010. Instinct tells me this is overly optimistic and that the final outcome will have Magufuli enjoying support in the mid-50s. Even so, opposition strategists are conceding privately that the gap is now unbridgeable for their candidate, former prime minister Edward Lowassa. Inevitably, this dawning awareness has been accompanied by claims of electoral manipulation, most particularly on the islands of Zanzibar (on which matter I will write separately). So far, so predictable.

In truth, the fashionable international media narrative about this election representing a genuine threat to CCM’s hegemony was never very convincing. Mainly because of the characters of the two leading candidates.

The CCM surprised almost every observer when it elected the little known Magufuli as its presidential candidate. But the party has form in choosing unexpected candidates and this one was particularly smart. While previously low profile, Magufuli is respected by many ordinary Tanzanians as hard-working and untainted by corruption. His campaign slogan of ‘hapa kazi tu’ (roughly translated as ‘here, just work’) played well to his reputational strength. As a result of his election, long-serving CCM member and the party’s prime minister until 2008, Lowassa, defected to the opposition Chama Cha Democrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA – Party of Democracy and Development). He was almost immediately anointed as Chadema’s presidential candidate – a surprising move for a party that wears democracy on its sleeve, and one which led to the resignations of senior party figures, including the man who had expected to win the nomination, former candidate Wilbrod Slaa. Not a promising start.

Furthermore, Lowassa’s resignation as prime minister in 2008 came amid corruption allegations relating to energy contracts. While he has not been convicted of any wrong-doing, Lowassa has never quite managed to shake off the negative connotations of the so-called Richmond affair. Given that a commitment to anti-corruption was previously Chadema’s strongest opposition suit, Lowassa was a puzzling choice of candidate and one that I believe it will come heartily to regret. Having kicked the campaigning ladder from beneath itself, Chadema and its partners in the UKAWA coalition (Umoja ya Katiba ya Wananchi -Union for a People’s Constitution) were forced to rely on their man’s star-quality and, in particular, his somewhat surprising youth appeal (Lowassa is 62). It seems likely to prove too narrow a strategy.

True, Edward Lowassa can pack out a stadium, command media attention and elicit yelps of appreciation from youths desperate for change and economic opportunity. But the popular slogan for change ‘Miaka 54 inatosha’ (’54 years – of CCM – is enough’) lacked broader resonance since Lowassa had been part of CCM for 38 of those years. And, while Lowassa was whipping up the crowds, Magufuli was quietly living up to his reputation, by working hard. He travelled the country extensively, largely by road in the early stages of the campaign, visiting village after village and engaging with voters one-to-one, displaying a humility that talks to the hard-working, predominantly peaceful and quietly optimistic people of rural Tanzania.

It is a strategy that looks set to have paid dividends for CCM and Magufuli and, I dare say, for the country as a whole. Magufuli looks like he will grow into a solid, positive force for change in Tanzania: ironic, as the opposition sought to portray him as the status quo, establishment candidate. Wiser heads saw through this and may well have prevailed. The younger, impatient heads will get another chance in 2020, but many of them will have grown up by then.

Tanzania Succession: Alcohol Unites CCM

Women Outdoor

On 12th July 2015, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) announced that its candidate for Tanzania’s presidential election will be the Minister of Works John Pombe (alcohol in KiSwahili) Magufuli. This decision surprised many observers as Magufuli beat a number of CCM heavyweights to the party’s nomination. Nonetheless, it appears that his selection has been largely welcomed by not only the party but also the wider country.

The initial list of candidates for the CCM nomination was 38 names long and the two who were considered the frontrunners were former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa (2005-2008) and the current Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Membe. These two were joined by a number of other possible contenders including: Vice President Mohamed Bilal; Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda; Deputy Minister of Communication, Science and Technology January Makamba; and Makongoro Nyerere, son of Tanzania’s founding president Julius Nyerere. Interestingly, Magufuli was not considered a contender until the list was whittled down by the party’s Central Committee to only five names on 10th July 2015. Nevertheless, even within these five names, which were reduced to three by the party’s National Executive Committee on 11th July 2015, Magufuli was up against Membe and Makamba. When the final three – Magufuli, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Asha-Rose Migiro and African Union Ambassador to Washington Amina Salum Ali – were eventually put to the CCM’s National Congress, Magufuli won an overwhelming victory with 87 percent of the vote.

In the process of creating the candidate shortlist it appeared that the CCM might have been heading towards a divisive period in its relatively stable history. The campaign had already created tension between the Lowassa and Membe camps and after the announcement of the first shortlist, the Lowassa camp reacted strongly. Supporters of Lowassa were highly critical of the Central Committee’s and particularly the current president’s – Jakaya Kikwete’s – decision to not include Lowassa in the shortlist. This is primarily because Lowassa supported Kikwete’s bid for the presidency in 2005. His supporters claimed that this move would damage the party as Lowassa was the most popular candidate. One of Lowassa’s supporters in the Central Committee, Emmanuel Nchimbi, was reported as stating that “we disassociate ourselves from this decision”. There were also rumours that Lowassa’s supporters were keen for him to break with the CCM and run against the party’s candidate in October. Nonetheless, although Lowassa is an influential member of the CCM and has a solid support base, he is a divisive figure within the party and has a questionable reputation. In 2008, Lowassa was forced to resign as prime minister after a select committee accused his office of foul play in relation to a contract involving the state-owned electricity company TANESCO and Richmond Development Company. Since then, Lowassa’s name has been tarnished by corruption allegations, a fact that he was acutely aware of when he launched his campaign stating that “we cannot build a modern economy without curbing corruption”.

After the removal of Lowassa from the race, Membe should have been the frontrunner. However, his nomination would have increased the likelihood of internal divisions with Lowassa’s supporters, which would have been taken advantage of by the opposition. Thus, it appears that the CCM needed a unity candidate and they found this in Magufuli. This was reflected in his definitive victory at the party’s National Congress and further supported by the minimal amount of spoiled ballots. Unlike Membe or Lowassa, Magufuli did not lead or belong to a camp within the CCM, which meant that his nomination would not deepen or create divisions in the party. Instead, he is able to garner widespread support, even from his rivals, as shown by Migiro and Ali’s pledge of support for him following his victory. Thus, his selection helps to ensure the unity of the CCM and in turn its continued domination of Tanzanian politics.

Furthermore, the selection of Magufuli is a sign from the CCM that it wishes to change its image. If Lowassa was chosen to be the party’s candidate, its message of fighting corruption would have been perceived as mere lip service, both nationally and amongst the international community. As corruption remains a major problem in Tanzania, with it ranked as the 56th most corrupt nation in the world on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2014, it was important that the party’s candidate was perceived as serious about fighting corruption. Unlike Lowassa, Magufuli has not been tainted by corruption allegations. Rather, he has been packaged as a man of action, who will deal with the problem head on. Kikwete reportedly described him as “a no nonsense man” and said that “we hope he will help the country to conquer poverty, fight graft and indiscipline”. The CCM National Chairman also described him as “a very aggressive candidate”, alluding to his position concerning corruption. Moreover, Magufuli has similarly spoke on the matter stating that “to all irresponsible leaders, thieves and corrupt officials; please be informed that I will deal with you in a very polite way”. It seems that Magufuli’s image has struck a chord with the wider population, who see him as the type of tough and committed leader that Tanzania needs. Although he is far from a break with the past – Magufuli has been a member of the CCM since 1977, a CCM MP since 1995 and a cabinet Minister since 2000 – he is a sign of the CCM’s changing image. This was also demonstrated by two of the final three candidates being female and Magufuli’s decision to select the CCM’s first female running mate, Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Although the CCM are almost guaranteed a victory in October’s election whoever they chose to represent them, it seems that Magufuli is likely to ensure this and possibly even increase the party’s majority. Despite a number of opposition parties’ commitment to fielding a joint candidate, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to challenge the CCM, especially under the leadership of Magufuli. He appears to have popular support and after winning his party’s nomination, the presidency is almost within reach. The question is whether he will represent a change for the CCM once he is power, particularly in relation to the fight against corruption. Magufuli has asked the Tanzanian people to “Trust me” and said that “I am not going to let you down…trust me I will not fail you”. The Tanzanian people will chose whether they trust him on 25th October 2015, and later see if that trust is well placed.