What is a secular state? How South Africa has tried to separate religion and politics

The shifting relationship between state and religion has historically been a contested space, and the focus of much scholarship. It is important for observers to understand this unstable boundary, so that neither political nor religious actors undermine democratic freedoms. Calvin D. Ullrich, a theologian and philosopher of religion, examines the evolution of the state-religion context … Read more

Tanzania’s 60-year-old union may need a restructure

On 26 April 2024, Tanzania celebrated 60 years of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The union, which created the present-day United Republic of Tanzania, stands out among the longest lasting political arrangements of its kind in Africa, and has shaped the country’s construction of national identity. Nicodemus Minde, who has researched Tanzania’s politics, unpacks … Read more

how it felt to organise South Africa’s first democratic election in just 4 months

South Africa’s historic 27 April 1994 national election marked the end of more than three centuries of colonial and apartheid rule. The period leading to the election was one of heightened political tension, with opponents of change working hard to derail the process through deadly violence. Political scientist Kealeboga Maphunye asks Mandla Mchunu, first deputy … Read more

Kenya’s flood evictions may violate the law

Recent floods in Kenya have left at least 270 people dead, displaced more than 200,000 and destroyed property, infrastructure and livelihoods across the country. In Nairobi, hundreds of people in informal settlements were left homeless and thousands were displaced. And now, the government has been evicting people from flood-prone areas. Smith Ouma is a legal … Read more

Belief in democracy is on the decline in Africa. Traditional institutions can help restore its importance

Democracy in Africa has not had a good year. Military juntas from Mali to Niger appear to have cemented their grip on power. Sudan’s democratic dreams were dashed when the country’s two most powerful strongmen opted for war. And there’s now evidence that ordinary Africans may be losing faith in democracy as the best form … Read more

Tanzania’s political parties have few women in leadership and candidate lists: some solutions

Tanzania, in keeping with global political trends, reserves 30% of seats in parliament for women. These so-called special seats were introduced with multiparty politics in 1992, in response to the low numbers of women elected to positions of power. There were only eight elected female parliamentarians after the first multiparty elections in 1995. Ten years … Read more