Africa's biggest news stories in 2014

2014-12-30 11:42

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Cape Town - The year 2014 has come to an end, with dramatic and devastating events defining Africa's news this year. The southern African region seemed to have a lot happening, with an attempted coup in Lesotho threatening to destabilise an otherwise peaceful region.

News24 takes you through some of the major events.



On 20 May, Malawi went to the polls and Joyce Banda, Africa's second female president, faced a stiff challenge from 12 candidates. Banda had come to power in 2013 following the sudden death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.

Joyce banda
Joyce Banda. (File: AFP)

Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika was declared the winner of the country’s disputed presidential election after defeating Banda.

Mutharika, the brother of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, took 36.4% of the votes cast against Banda's 20.2%.


The tiny kingdom's stability was shaken in August when soldiers raided the official residence of Prime Minister Tom Thabane, causing him to flee into nearby South Africa.

The attempted coup exposed friction between the Lesotho military and the police, threatening to push the country to the brink of a full-blown conflict.

Tom Thabane (File: AFP)

Early in December, South Africa's deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa helped broker a political agreement that re-opened parliament for the first time since June and pushed forward national elections by more than two years.

Efforts are under way to create a conducive climate for elections that have been slated for February 2015.


On 15 October, Mozambique held its harmonised elections, which saw the ruling Frelimo party and its candidate Filipe Nyusi coming out victorious.

Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since its independence in 1975, also maintained its majority in the country's 250-seat parliament.

Renamo, the main opposition party, and its candidate, former civil war rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama, alleged widespread fraud and irregularities in the elections.

The vote was, however, endorsed as broadly acceptable by international observers.


President Ian Khama of Botswana won a second term in power after his party secured a parliamentary majority at the polls held on 24 October.

Khama was re-elected president after his political party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), garnered at least 29 of the 57 parliamentary seats.

Ian Khama
Ian Khama (File: AFP)

Khama, however faced a challenge in urban areas, where opposition parties made inroads since the formation in 2010 of a breakaway party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), which is now part of the UDC coalition.

No celebrations took place in the streets of Gaborone after the announcement of the results.

Khama was sworn in on 28 October.


On 29 October, Zambia woke up to the news of the death of its president, Michael Sata, who had been rumoured ill for some time.

Sata, who was also known as "King Cobra", died in London, where he had been receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness.

Since Sata’s death, the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) has been rocked by a bitter leadership dispute, as the country gears up for an election to elect the next president on 20 January 2015.


Namibia's ruling Swapo party cruised to victory in presidential elections that were held on 28 November, with Prime Minister Hage Geingob taking 86.73% of the vote.

The election was Africa's first electronic ballot and it extended Swapo's 24-year rule.

Second placed presidential candidate McHenry Venaani of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance limped in with 4.97%. Swapo also consolidated its power in parliament, retaining a two-third majority with 80% of the national assembly ballot.


Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party held its congress in early December, which culminated in President Robert Mugabe sacking his vice president of 10 years Joice Mujuru and several ministers who were said to be allied to her.

This came following allegations that Mujuru plotted to oust Mugabe.

Joice Mujuru
Joice Mujuru (File: AFP)

Mugabe replaced Mujuru with her long-time rival Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is now widely believed to be in pole position to succeed the 90-year-old president.

Mugabe also appointed Phelekezela Mphoko as another of his deputies.

The congress also saw Mugabe's wife Grace being confirmed the new head of Zanu-PF’s women's wing, thus ushering the First Lady into mainstream politics.


West Africa was hit by the Ebola virus which started in Guinea and spread to other countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal.

The virus caught the whole world by surprise, as no-one was prepared to deal with it when it first struck.

The epidemic has killed more than 7 500 people, almost all of them in west Africa.


Islamic Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 200 girls in the north-eastern town of Chibok, in April.

Very little has been done to bring back the girls, with activists vowing to scale up the pressure on the Nigerian government to rescue them.

Nigeria girls
File: AFP

Families and supporters of the missing girls have been critical of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's response to the abduction, accusing him of being slow to react and indifferent to the girls' plight.

The girls' abduction drew unprecedented international attention to the war in Nigeria's northeast and the growing security risk that Boko Haram poses to Nigeria, Africa's leading energy producer.

A #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign supported by Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie has heaped pressure on authorities to act.

TB Joshua
TB Joshua (Facebook)

Still in Nigeria, scores of people were killed on 12 September when a multi-storey guesthouse attached to the church of one of Nigeria's most famous preachers and televangelists, TB Joshua, collapsed in Lagos.

It is believed 85 of those killed were from South Africa.

Joshua, a self-proclaimed prophet, has claimed the collapse may have been sabotage and has on three occasions ignored summonses to testify at an inquest.

His followers include influential politicians and business people in Africa and around the world.

Burkina Faso

Long-time president Blaise Compaore fled into exile in October after his bid to amend the constitution so he could seek yet another term in office prompted mass protests that turned violent.

Twenty-four people were killed and 625 people were wounded in the popular uprising.

Burkina Faso
File: AFP

A new interim government comprising army officials and civilian representatives was named to lead the country's 12-month transition, with elections expected in November 2015.

Compaore had been in power for 27 years.



On 5 December, the International Criminal Court dropped a case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta alleging crimes against humanity, saying there was insufficient evidence to take him to trial.

Uhuru kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta (File: AFP)

Kenyatta, 53, faced five charges including murder, rape and deportation for allegedly masterminding post-election violence in the east African country in 2007-08 in which more than 1 200 people died and 600 000 were displaced.



On 8 June, the ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took the oath of office as Egypt's president after a landslide election victory following the ouster of Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi in 2013.


On 24 July, Air Algerie lost contact with one of its planes bound for Algiers, nearly an hour after takeoff from Burkina Faso.

The wreckage of the aircraft carrying at least 116 people was later found in Mali.

Investigators at the scene of the crash concluded the airliner broke apart when it hit the ground, suggesting, therefore, that it was unlikely to have been the victim of an attack.

Poor weather was said to be the most likely cause of the crash.

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  boko haram  |  swapo  |  peter mutharika  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  tom thabane  |  grace mugabe  |  michael sata  |  uhuru kenyatta  |  joice mujuru  |  robert mugabe  |  joyce banda  |  guy scott  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  phelekezela mphoko  |  zimbabwe  |  kenya  |  botswana  |  egypt  |  mozambique  |  namibia  |  lesotho  |  algeria  |  burkina faso  |  malawi  |  nigeria  |  east africa  |  west africa  |  southern africa  |  north africa
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