Disputed election in Ghana may impact business environment, while Zuma looks set to secure ANC leadership in S Africa
Maplecroft’s latest Election Monitors analyse the disputed election in Ghana and the ANC’s elective party conference in South Africa, which will likely decide the country’s next president. The analysis looks at the key political developments and evaluates the potential impacts for business and investors.
Election Monitor - Ghana
The hope that the 7 December 2012 presidential election would solidify Ghana’s reputation for political maturity has been dented by a dispute over the outcome. According to official results, incumbent President John Dramani Mahama clinched a narrow victory for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) with 50.70% of the vote; a margin of victory sufficient to avoid a run-off against New Patriotic Party (NPP) challenger Nana Akufo-Addo, who trailed with 47.74%. However, the NPP announced on 11 December 2012 that it would launch a legal challenge in an effort to overturn the verdict. Local and international observers have stated that the elections were fair and transparent, and the NPP is yet to release the evidence it supposedly possesses that proves a conspiracy to keep Mahama in office. It therefore appears highly probable that Mahama’s victory will be confirmed by the courts.
Providing that the dispute is settled quickly and that the outcome of the election is ultimately accepted by both parties, material damage to investor confidence in Ghana could be relatively minimal. Indeed the NPP’s stance appears likely to discredit the party itself, more so than Ghana and its democratic processes. Nevertheless, the dispute suggests that there is a long-term danger of the business environment being thrown into uncertainty every four years by election-related turmoil. Meanwhile, the immediate priority for Mahama, if his victory is indeed confirmed, will be to bring the budget deficit under control. As such many of his campaign promises are likely to be deferred or abandoned, though his political fortunes depend on him fulfilling his pledge to maximise the domestic benefits to wider society arising from the nascent oil industry.
Election Monitor - South Africa
As the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) national elective party conference draws closer, Jacob Zuma looks increasingly assured of winning another term as leader of the ANC, and – by extension – an almost certain second term as South Africa’s president. Even at this late stage, it remains unclear whether Kgalema Motlanthe, Zuma’s most credible challenger and the only other candidate nominated as of 11 December 2012, will contest the presidency, inhibiting the emergence of a credible and effective campaign to unseat Zuma.
Large-scale labour strikes since August 2012 and substantial grievances over socio-economic inequalities are likely to contribute to calls for higher taxes on mines and for broader burdens on business to boost spending on services at the conference. While there is growing pressure on the ANC to adopt an even more populist stance – including through measures that would have a negative impact on business – more radical party policy proposals are likely to be moderated before becoming government policy.
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