n Journal of African Elections - Opposition party alliances and elections in Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia




The Southern African Development Community has made significant democratic progress since the 1990s following a wave of ferocious internal conflicts, as in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In order for the achievements to be sustained the region requires viable political parties, which are key role players in a democracy. The majority of the current ruling parties in the SADC region such as the African National Congress, the Botswana Democratic Party, Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, Zambia's Movement for Multiparty Democracy and the South West Africa People's Organisation are very powerful, while opposition parties are fragmented and generally weak. However, a trend has developed for opposition parties, having recognised their limitations, to form alliances in order to play a meaningful role. This route has been followed by opposition parties in Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia. On the eve of the recent general elections in Lesotho and Zambia, parties negotiated strategies to maximise their chances of winning. In Botswana the negotiation process is still under way, albeit threatened by the failure of parties to move from their fixed positions. These developments raise a critical question: does the formation of alliances constitute a viable option for opposition parties aspiring to power? Put differently: could alliances be the winning formula for the opposition parties in their attempts to circumvent the glaring paucity of their numbers and become a force to be reckoned with?


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