Lessons From Bassirou Diomaye Faye's Election As Senegalese President - Mutebuka

3 months agoWed, 27 Mar 2024 13:29:08 GMT
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Lessons From Bassirou Diomaye Faye's Election As Senegalese President - Mutebuka

Brighton Mutebuka, a UK-based Zimbabwean academic, asserts that the election of Bassirou Diomaye Faye as the President of Senegal underscores several critical factors that contribute to the success of young African politicians in elections.
These factors include an independent electoral body, minimal intervention by the security establishment, and a populist political message.

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a relatively unheralded 44-year-old opposition leader, secured an impressive 53.7% of the votes in Senegal’s presidential election held recently, making him the youngest elected president in Africa.

Faye’s victory reflects the youth’s frustration with high unemployment and concerns about governance in the West African nation.

Commenting on this development, Mutebuka acknowledges that while it remains uncertain whether the Pan-Africanism and anti-colonial sentiment that propelled Faye into office can extend to Southern Africa, the possibility of change exists when the electoral body operates independently and the military refrains from propping up incumbents. Wrote Mutebuka:

Lessons From Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s Election As Senegalese President

1. In Africa, perhaps sub-Saharan Africa, age is no longer a barrier to ascendancy to the highest office.

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2. Whilst there is no guarantee that what happened in Senegal can be replicated elsewhere, particularly pertaining to the strength of feeling vis-à-vis Pan-Africanism & anti-colonial sentiment, it seems that there is a general trend in that direction which can be deployed to tap into young voters.

3. Perhaps the strength of feeling / relative radicalism is more pronounced in West Africa where we have witnessed wildly / radically anti-French coups which have achieved resonance with the rank & file citizens in Mali, Burkina Faso & Niger.

4. It is not clear at this point whether or not such sentiments can extend to the rough & tumble of Southern African politics, especially in Zimbabwe.

5. @Julius_S_Malema has clearly been doing well by championing a populist pro-poor & pro-Russia & China agenda & by definition, anti-West. What is clear is that he has not been doing well enough nationally to threaten to torpedo the prevailing political orthodoxy & thus upend @MYANC’s dominance.

6. In Zimbabwe there’s an entrenched military-industrial complex in power and there are solid grounds that but for that interference in political matters, regime change would have taken place in elections which took place in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2018 & 2023.

7. Zambia, Botswana, Namibia & South Africa are, in comparison to Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland & DRC, relatively stable democracies where the will of the people can roughly be expected to prevail, bar one or two considerations.

8. It would appear that the key ingredients for transition to take place are: an independent electoral body, lack of intervention by the security establishment and a sound / populist political message which galvanises the masses & captures the prevailing mood / resonates with the grassroots.


Whilst it is clear that West Africa is a hotbed of anti-French political sentiments, it’s unclear whether or not such undercurrents also permeate the underbelly of Southern African politics. Democracy is still clearly a work in progress in the region – perhaps it could be said in retreat.

Liberation Struggle political parties still hold sway but largely through exploiting their struggle credentials via conflating / blurring the boundaries between party & state institutions – which makes for unstable democracies, and fluid & uncertain political futures.

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