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HIV/AIDS and Democratic Governance in Africa: Illustrating the impact on electoral processes

Preliminary results from: Namibia, Malawi, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia

Kondwani Chirambo1

Presented to the second Governance and AIDS Forum of Idasa, Cape Town, May 22-24, 2007

SARPN acknowledges IDASA as a source of this document:
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The research presented in this paper responds to years of academic speculation and subsequent policy concerns about the possible collapse of Africa’s democratic project under the complex waves of impacts introduced by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

It is the result of three years of exploratory studies in seven countries: Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal and Zambia. Anecdotes of Lesotho and Zimbabwe have also been highlighted. As all studies, this research has its limitations. To begin with:

  1. Records on actual cause of death are not available due to confidentiality considerations. Researchers have to draw inferences by analysing trends and age cohorts and determine whether they fit the AIDS mortality profiles
  2. Not all countries have institutionalised citizen and voter registration systems; in cases where these exist, they will not always be directly compatible. This renders it extremely laborious for authorities to capture deaths and purge dead electors from the voter rolls in time. Because of this, there is a high probability this investigation will not have unravelled the full extent to which voter registration systems have been compromised by AIDS, if at all.
  3. As all exploratory research, the project provides answers and also generates a myriad of new questions. However, the limited resources available are not sufficient to investigate all perspectives that arise from this project
The report therefore does not provide a comprehensive comparative picture but highlights the anecdotes that inform various aspects of the study at this point.

  1. Kondwani Chirambo is the Manager of the Governance and AIDS Programme of Idasa. He initiated this ground breaking study on HIV/AIDS and Electoral Democracy in 2003. The project now involves a wide network of African research institutions and academics. Kondwani holds A Master of Arts Degree (MA) in Mass Communications, awarded by the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Leicester. He is also currently studying for his PHD in the field of Communication Science with the University of South Africa.

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