Photograph — Newsweek

As 2022 gradually comes to a close with people planning to have a great Christmas Holiday, several African governments are gearing up for Presidential elections in 2023. The African democracy is flawed as a shadow of the real deal. As critical as that may sound, it is the truth. 

Democracy in many African countries seems to be dysfunctional. In places like Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and Cameroon, critics have long classified democracy as a reflection of the interests of the political ruling class. Whereas, in Nigeria, democracy appears like an organised charade by corrupt officials unwilling to cure the dysfunctional economy.

Generally, the top governmental positions – President and Prime Minister- in Africa are constitutionally renewable once, for either 4 or 5 years. However, some politicians on the continent have manipulated their way to remain in power for a long time. This they did through constitutional coups.

These trends are recorded in places like Cameroon, where critics have accused President Paul Biya to have fraudulently stayed in power since 1982 (40 years), and in Equatorial Guinea- where Teodoro Obiang Nguema has served as head of state since August 1979 (43). The octogenarian is the longest-serving head of state in the world.

Other leaders include Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo (38), Yoweri Museveni of Uganda (36), and Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea (29), to mention a few.

As Africans go out in mass to thumbprint ballot papers in the coming year, it is uncertain what the future holds. While some governments remain unsure about holding general elections next year, some have fixed their dates. Below is a list of Presidential elections in Africa to look forward to in 2023:

Nigeria, February 2023

Nigeria has enjoyed over two decades of uninterrupted democracy since its 4th republic began in 1999. President Muhammad Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is the head of state and the head of government, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. By May 2023, Buhari would have completed his second term (8 years) in office. The Nigerian general elections will hold in February 2023, and a new president will take office in May 2023.

Sierra Leone, June 2023

Sierra Leone is enjoying its third republic which began in 2002. The country operates a presidential system of government and President Julius Maada Wonie Bio is the head of state. He was a one-time military ruler in 1996 (3 months). Bio helped to return Sierra Leone to a democratically elected government when he handed over power to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah following a presidential election in 1996. 

Presidential elections will hold on in June 2023.

Liberia, October 2023.

Liberia operates a presidential system of government where the president serves as the head of state and head of government. George Weah, a politician and former footballer, is the president of Liberia. 

He came into power as the 25th president in January 2018. He succeeded former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- Africa’s first democratically elected president.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), December 2023.

The DRC operates a semi-presidential system of government, where power is split (partially) between the president and the prime minister. While the president is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the prime minister is the head of government. The prime minister oversees much of the actual lawmaking. 

President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi is the head of DRC. He assumed power in 2018, a 5-years tenure which is renewable once. Tshidekedi holds the country’s highest office and outranks all other politicians. He exerts significant ceremonial and executive powers.

General elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo are slated for December 2023. 

Madagascar, November 2023 

Madagascar operates a presidential system of government with a 5-year tenure for presidents, renewable once. The Island country held its last elections in November 2018, which brought businessman and politician Andry Nirina Rajoelina into power- after several failed attempts. He was sworn President of Madagascar in January 2019. 

Elections will hold in November 2023.

South Sudan, July 2023 

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 following a referendum. The country operates a parliamentary system of government- with a head of state and a head of government. 

Salva Kiir Mayardit has led the country as president since its independence. The country has not conducted any elections since independence due to internal conflicts, and the government’s inability to form a permanent constitution thwarted it. But after the peace agreement that ended a civil war, a transitional period of three years was agreed on, followed by elections in 2023.

 Zimbabwe, July or August 2023

Zimbabwe operates a presidential system of government. In October, the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced the suspension of by-elections while setting July or August 2023 as the months for the upcoming harmonised general elections.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling Zanu-PF is the head of state. Although his first full term began in 2018 following a disputed election, Emmerson started running the country on 24 November 2017 after succeeding long-term ruler Robert Mugabe. In Zimbabwe, the president holds the highest political office.

Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow