Kenya, Angola, Lesotho elections: briefing with Deputy Minister

This premium content has been made freely available

International Relations

28 September 2022
Chairperson: Mr S Mahumapelo (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting, the briefing by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) covered the outcomes of the Kenyan and Angolan elections and challenges faced during the elections. Kenya has 22.1 million registered voters, of which 65.4% turned out. Dr William Ruto was declared President-Elect on 15 August 2022 with 50.49% of the votes. Mr Raila Odinga challenged the election outcome but the Supreme Court of Kenya found the outcome valid.

In Angola, 14 million people were on the voter’s roll, of which 44% voted in the election. The MPLA won the elections with 51.17%. UNITA lodged a petition to the Constitutional Court for a recount of the ballots citing several discrepancies in the tabulation, but the petition was rejected.

The Lesotho elections are set to take place on 7 October 2022 with 65 parties contesting the election. The identified challenges were the transportation of ballots, budgetary constraints and increased levels of crime by the ‘Famo’ Gangs for the elections.

Committee Members were satisfied that the elections in Angola and Kenya were predominantly peaceful and discussed Kenya's role in stabilising the East African region and the prospect of increasing trade between South Africa and Kenya. They asked about the workings of the Lesotho electoral system and resolved that the Department would do the necessary research and report back to the Committee.

Committee Members asked about the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Kenya and the National Electoral Commission (CNE) in Angola distancing themselves from the elections after they had occurred. The Department replied that investigations had taken place and found that the concerns did not negatively impact the elections.

On President Ruto’s recent tweet about Western Sahara, DIRCO reported that the Principal Secretary of Kenya released a statement indicating that Kenya is fully aligned with the decision of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to admit the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a member and subsequently also as a member of the African Union.

The Committee requested that DIRCO do a comparative analysis of the elections and the South African electoral commission to identify areas where South Africa could improve.

Meeting report

Introductory Remarks by Deputy Minister
Deputy Minister Alvin Botes said that the Minister was engaged with multilateral work in the United States and that she would return to South Africa soon. He emphasized the critical nature of the presentation as it is about the African agenda and ensuring that free and credible elections are held is one of the key tenets of good governance. Elections on the African continent are governed by treaties that all member states of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have adopted, more specifically, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. This charter calls for state parties to promote regular free and fair elections to institutionalise legitimate authority and representative government and democratic chains of government. He quoted the charter calling for state parties to ‘reaffirm their commitment to the regular holding of transparent, free and fair elections.’

He said that the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections aimed to promote enhanced adherence to the principle of the rule of law, premised upon the respect for supremacy of the constitutional order in the political arrangements of the member states holding elections. The principles and guidelines further aim to promote the holding of free and fair, transparent, credible, peaceful, and democratic elections to institutionalize legitimate authority of representative government and enhance electoral integrity. DIRCO has found convening regular elections on the continent to be the norm. The recent experiences in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Sudan do not represent the AU value system.

The South African government has called for firm and strong action to be taken by the AU and appropriate regional economic communities (RECs) against unconstitutional changes of government. The presentation would capture the fact that the people of Angola and Kenya have shown resilience and commitment to the peaceful elections recently convened which served as a testimony to the investment by these governments for Aspiration 3 of the AU Agenda 2063: An Africa of Good Governance, Democracy, Respect for Human Rights, Justice and the Rule of Law. 

The Kingdom of Lesotho will be going to the polls on 7 October 2022 as the South African-led facilitation process between the Basotho on the types of reforms required within the political landscape of Lesotho. Since the appointment of President Ramaphosa as the facilitator of this process, supported by a facilitation team led by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, work has been tirelessly undertaken to conform to the mandate of the SADC facilitation team. The final goal of the facilitation team was adopting the Omnibus Constitutional Amendment Bill by the Lesotho Parliament.

The goal of the bill was to amend the 1993 Lesotho Constitution and other reform directives. Unfortunately, the Bill could not pass before Parliament dissolved ahead of the elections. Despite this, the elections have been going ahead as planned and SADC has deployed its election observer mission. It is also expected to deploy the strategic parliamentary forum and the SADC electoral commission.

DIRCO Foreign Service briefing
Kenyan Elections

Mr Mbulelo Bungane, Director: East African Community (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia, DIRCO, gave a historical overview of the elections in Kenya. He noted that the 2007 elections were followed by violence in which over 1000 people were killed. In 2012, the presidential elections were won by Mr Uhuru Kenyatta with Mr Ruto as his running mate. In 2017, Mr Kenyatta was again declared the winner but the Kenya Supreme Court nullified the results but Mr Kenyatta won again in the subsequent elections.

The General Elections in Kenya took place on 9 August 2022, with over 22.1 million registered voters, of which 39.84% were young voters. Only 65.4% of registered voters voted but the election was lauded by international observers as peaceful and ‘above average’. Dr William Ruto was declared President-Elect on 15 August 2022 with 50.49% of the votes.

On 16 August 2022, the elections were challenged by another candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, through a lawsuit brought to the Supreme Court of Kenya. Mr Odinga claimed that ballots from 27 constituencies were not tallied and that the 50% plus one threshold was not reached. The Supreme Court found that the election was valid.

The presentation also acknowledged the strategic importance of the relationship between South Africa and Kenya and the role that Kenya plays in Pan-African affairs. It detailed the aim to increase trade and investment with Kenya and cooperate in promoting democracy and good governance.

Angolan Elections
Mr Khazimula Chabane, Director: Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Angola And DRC, DIRCO, said that the Angolan elections were held on 24 June 2022. An invitation was sent to the SADC to deploy an Electoral Observer Mission. Over 14 million people were on the voter’s roll and just over 6 million voted, this is 44%.

The SADC Mission observed that the pre-election and post-election phases were peaceful and commended all stakeholders for respecting the rule of law and the political contestants following due process in resolving post-election disputes.

On 29 August 2022, the Angolan National Electoral Commission (CNE) released the final election results indicating that the MPLA won the elections with 51,17%. UNITA lodged a petition to the Constitutional Court for a recount of the ballots citing several discrepancies in the CNE tabulation. On 8 September 2022, the Angolan Constitutional Court rejected the petition of UNITA.

Lesotho Elections
Mr Chabane said that National Assembly elections would be held on 7 October 2022, with 65 parties contesting. Legislative authority is entrusted in both the Government and the two chambers of the Parliament, the Senate and National Assembly. The National Assembly consists of 120 members, 80 members voted through plurality votes and 40 members voted on by political parties. The Senate consists of 33 nominated members; 22 principal chiefs and 11 members appointed by the ruling party.

The IEC is highly regarded by all stakeholders as an independent and credible election management body and that the SADC, AU, EU, Commonwealth and the USA have confirmed to participate as international observers in the elections.

The challenges the elections are facing include transportation of ballots, budget and the increased levels of crime by the ‘Famo’ Gangs. Lesotho will hold elections under the 1993 Constitution as the 10th Lesotho Parliament could not pass the 11th Constitutional Amendment (Omnibus) Bill before the dissolution of the Parliament on 13 July 2022 in preparation for the elections. 

Mr T Mpanza (ANC) (Acting Chairperson as Mr Mahumapelo had network challenges) asked what President Ruto had said on the Western Sahara matter because it is important to be briefed on this and to understand what Kenya’s position is on such matters.

Mr B Nkosi (ANC) said that it is important that the Committee is briefed prior to the elections, particularly on the state of readiness of countries to hold elections and the role of monitoring groups. This would ensure that the Committee is able to determine if it should request to be part of the observer missions or to influence observer missions to focus on particular issues.

He welcomed the fact that there had been minimal violence during the Kenyan elections. He asked what role Kenya plays in that region on stabilization. The instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo affects more countries in that area so it is important to reflect on what Kenya does to ensure stability.

Secondly, on the relationship between Kenya and South Africa, democratization in both countries should lead to increased levels of engagement in trade and economic relations so he asked what the situation is in that regard. He asked about the role of parliamentarians pre- and post-elections, particularly the African Parliament.

On Lesotho’s elections, Mr Nkosi said that the instability of successive governments in Lesotho affects South Africa and is a concern for SADC. He welcomed the constitutional reforms and the fact that they will be tabled and if adopted, will guide future elections in Lesotho.

Mr K Meshoe (ACDP) said that Mr Odinga filed a lawsuit challenging the election outcome with the Supreme Court as the Kenyan constitution gives a threshold of 50% plus one vote. The election did not give the incumbent 50% plus one but the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Dr Ruto. He asked how the Supreme Court justified giving a unanimous ruling even though the threshold was not attained.

On the Lesotho elections, Mr Meshoe asked for the meaning of the plurality vote where 80 National Assembly members are voted for in this manner. On the 40 members voted in by political parties, how does this vote take place and what is the difference between the political party vote and the plurality vote? The senate consists of 33 nominated members, are those nominated voted on and if so, by whom? How was the number of 22 chiefs decided on and does the public have input on this appointment? On the 11 senate members appointed by the ruling party, are they appointed from their members and has this practice been going on unchallenged by the public and other political parties?

Some members of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) distanced themselves from the results, as evident in both Kenya and Angola, which could undermine the credibility of the election results. He asked if this is standard practice or the reason for this phenomenon.

The Chairperson asked for a comparative analysis of the electoral systems that the three countries use with the South African electoral system. The Constitutional Court has ordered that amendments are made to the South African electoral system so it would be appropriate to take lessons from these elections. He referred to the Kenyan electoral system that allegedly covers all spheres of government.

DIRCO response
Ambassador Maud Dlomo, Acting Director-General, DIRCO, thanked the Committee for their questions and asked Mr Bungane to respond.

Mr Bungane replied that Mr Ruto’s tweet on Western Sahara indicated that Kenya was derecognizing Western Sahara as a state. Later the Principal Secretary (equivalent to the Director General) issued a statement to clarify Kenya’s stance on the matter. The statement indicated that Kenya is fully aligned with the decision of the Organization of African Unity to admit the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a member and subsequently also as an AU member. Kenya aligns itself with the United Nations Security Council resolution that called for the self-determination of Western Sahara through a free and fair referendum administered by the UN and AU. Lastly, the statement indicated that Kenya does not conduct its foreign policy on social media.

Mr Bungane agreed that the Department was also relieved by the peaceful course of the elections. Kenya is an important player in stabilizing the region and South Africa would take a cue from them especially on the deployment of troops to Somalia. DIRCO is aware of the civil war in Ethiopia and that Kenya has been supporting mediation efforts in the war. Kenya has also played a role in the eastern DRC by hosting the summit of the heads of states in that region, where it was decided that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)  would deploy troops in Eastern Africa to bring peace to that region.

On bilateral relations between South Africa and Kenya, Mr Bungane replied that the Department is working to increase trade with Kenya and to lessen obstacles South African companies are facing to boost investment while also working to rectify the trade imbalance.

Mr Bungane replied that President Ruto gained 50.49% of the votes so it seems that the court ruling was based on the fact that it was definitely more than 50%. DIRCO will try to source the original court document, if available, and share it with the Committee.

On the comparative analysis, Mr Bungane said that the Department would need time to prepare that. He added that the obvious differences between the Kenyan and South African electoral systems are how the president is elected. In Kenya, the president gets voted in by the electorate, not parliament, as in South Africa. Another innovation in the elections was that it was done electronically. Some foreign nationals were found with information about the system but it was found not to have impacted the elections.

On the electoral commission distance itself from the elections, he explained that the commissioners were part of the process until right before the elections were completed. The court found no issue with this as the electoral commission was there throughout the process.

Ms Dlomo noted the request for the comparative analysis of the elections and said there is some research to be done.

Mr Chabane replied that Lesotho has a very unique system as the kingship is hereditary and there are certain powers vested in the king by the college of chiefs. The monarch has the right to nominate approximately 11 members to serve a five-year period in the senate and then 22 members called the hereditary. The plurality vote was looked at within this unique mixed-member representative system. Within this system, two ballots are given on election day, one is used for the nominal candidate and the second is for a party. These ballots determine the number of seats each party will receive depending on the proportionality. The seats are allocated through a sort of variation system whereby a total number of votes cast by political parties are divided by the total number of seats available in its National Assembly. Plurality voting is done at constituency level where people vote for candidates. He reaffirmed the hope that the constitutional reforms will address the gaps in the system for future elections. Further research would need to be done to answer all of the questions.

Further questions
Mr Meshoe asked for a commitment from Ms Dlomo to do the necessary research and report back to the Committee on the unanswered questions, especially on the rationale for the 11 members of the senate that are appointed by the ruling party.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Meshoe and added that DIRCO would need to research the comparative analysis and report back to the Committee.

Mr W Faber (DA) pointed out that the Foreign Services Unit is there to ensure electoral integrity. ANC Youth League members had been sent as observers to an unlawful referendum in Ukraine by Russia. He asked if DIRCO Foreign Services will be taking steps on this as South Africa's integrity is being questioned. He questioned if the ANC Youth League was sent to give legitimacy to Russian illegal occupancy and referendums in Ukraine as a form of silent diplomacy.

The Chairperson said it is up to the Department to determine if they are in a position to respond to Mr Faber’s question as it was not a part of the agenda.

Ms Dlomo replied that the official position of the Department is that it respects the integrity of each and every country and asked for the Deputy Minister to further respond.

The Chairperson noted that the Deputy Minister was likely having connectivity difficulties. The Committee is not represented by any other organisation or structure except the Committee; the same goes for the Department.

Mr Nkosi agreed with the Chairperson that DIRCO represents South Africa’s official position on foreign policy matters. It does not mean that organizations and individuals cannot take stances on an issue happening at an international level. He referred to the DA leader going to Ukraine and expressing his views. Taking such positions is in line with the South African Constitution and its principles of freedom of association, speech and opinion.

The Chairperson thanked everyone and closed the meeting.

DIRCO delegation:

DM Alvin Botes                   Deputy Minister
Amb Maud Dlomo               Acting DG
Mr Christiaan Kriek              Deputy Director: Acting DGs Office
Ms Eunice Raimundo           Office of the Acting DG
Mr Thapelo Madumane        Acting Head: Office of the DG
Hlengiwe Nkonyeni              Office of the DG
Mr Khazimula Chabane        Director: Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Angola And Drc
Amb Mbulelo Bungane        Director: East African Community (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia
Adv Sandea Dewet              Chief Director: Office of the State Law Advisor
Mr Jackie McKay                 Special Advisor: Minister Pandor
Mr Luyanda Frans                Parliamentary Office: Office of the Minister
Ms Sithulile Nzuza               Director: Technical Advisor: Deputy Minister Botes Office
Ms Melanie Titus                 Deputy Director: Parliament/ Cabinet Liaison Officer
Ms Hlengiwe Bhengu           Acting CFO
Amb Zodwa Lallie                Acting DDG: Asia and Middle East
Ms Skhumbuzo Nyambi       Head of Office: Deputy Minister Dlamini’s Office
Mr Meshack Nkosi               Deputy Director: Parliamentary Officer


No related

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: