Thursday, 10 September 2015

Opposition lines

On his coming travels to France and New York for the United Nations General Assembly this month, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and his delegation will be sought out by the posse of lobbying companies advising Africa’s ever hopeful opposition parties.

Building the national opposition alliance in Nigeria was much easier once six of the most powerful state governors had defected from the PDP. They brought with them resources, political networks and insider knowledge of how the governing party works and fights its elections. But that pattern is unlikely to be repeated in next month’s elections. Certainly in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, incumbent presidents Alassane Ouattara and Alpha Condé look set to see off their opponents. It’s more exciting in Burkina Faso, where Blaise Compaoré was chased from power a year ago and his camp followers are being kept away from the elections.

Only in Tanzania is the opposition, Chadema, copying part of the Buhari model before elections on 25 October. It has succeeded in wooing a former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, with in-depth knowledge of the governing Chama cha Mapinduzi. Sadly for Chadema, he doesn’t bring a Buhari-style reputation for honesty. After Chadema’s adoption of Lowassa as its presidential candidate, Wilbrod Slaa, one of the opposition party’s founders, resigned in protest. Previously Chadema had included Lowassa on a list of politicians who merited investigation.

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