In recent months, President Magufuli's popularity has dwindled, as the government has come under sharp criticism over some of his policies, including the ongoing clampdown on civil society and political opposition.
"The latest state of emergency in Ethiopia, the second in two years, is an extension of the long repressive status quo, and that status quo is increasingly untenable," Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director at Vanguard Africa, which advocates for free and fair transfers of power in the continent, told Newsweek.
"If the country's leaders are in any way committed to pulling the country out of its economic, humanitarian and political tailspin, then long overdue democratic reforms are necessary."
The executive director of the US-based nonprofit Vanguard Africa, Jeffrey Smith, also paid tribute to Tsvangirai on twitter. “Go well and rest in power, Morgan Tsvangirai. His steadfast courage and willingness to stand tall against one of the most repressive regimes on the African continent should be applauded. He pushed #Zimbabwe's pro-democracy struggle further than anyone. He will be missed by many.”
Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of advocacy nonprofit Vanguard Africa, says that undertaking these actions against prisoners “will only exacerbate the social and political fissures that are increasingly evident in the country.”
Emerging democratic governments are also enhancing Africa’s economic growth. For instance, Gambia voted dictator Yahya Jammeh out of power at the start of last year. Supporting that ouster was Vanguard Africa, a nonprofit that works to implement free and fair elections. Chris Harvin, cofounder of Vanguard Africa, says a more open society results in a freer press and opportunities for firms offering counsel to high-end clients.
“It’s not that France has taken a hands-off approach,” says Jeffrey Smith, an activist who pushed for Atangana’s release in past roles at Freedom House and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, an advocacy organization. “They’ve taken a hands-on approach with a very pro-stability lens. They’re really trying to maintain the status quo, which is in their best interests.”
The diaspora leadership also worked with Vanguard Africa, a nonprofit that advocates for pro-democracy politicians. Jeffery Smith, the executive director of Vanguard Africa, helped Gambians in the US get meetings at the State Department and connect with international media. The diaspora was crucial in focusing attention on Gambia in the lead-up to the election, he says.
“Dictators grow strength in the shadows. They become more emboldened in the darkness and [the diaspora] were able to take that away from Jammeh,” he says. “The international spotlight was on the country. The people in the country recognized this; they were becoming more emboldened because of that.”
Jeffrey Smith, the executive director or advocacy nonprofit Vanguard Africa, said the situation risks deteriorating if possible solutions aren’t found. “With elections due later this year, and with President Biya’s increasing unpopularity, this is a potentially explosive situation that merits much more attention than it has been receiving, namely from regional leaders who should, in theory, have an interest in containing the regional unrest,” he said.
Reacting to the Trump Administration’s announced a global freeze order on assets of Yahya Jammeh, and a list of many other international investments related with the exiled dictator, Mr. Smith said it is “a further testament to the collective tenacity of their allies who’ve sought to hold the past regime accountable and help the country move on to a brighter, more prosperous and democratic future,”.
As the new leader of Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa has indicated a commitment to a democratic, just and prosperous country. However, it remains to be seen whether his promises won't live to be mere rhetorical intentions.