While it is generally believed that the role of opposition parties is to act as political watchdogs to keep the ruling parties in check, only 28 percent of the respondents in 36 African countries surveyed by Afrobarometer felt so.
The majority felt that once the election is over, opposition parties and politicians should accept defeat and cooperate with the government to help it develop the country.
The situation is worse in Southern Africa. In Botswana, seen as one of Africa’s most enduring democracies, only 16 percent believed that the role of the opposition is to play a watchdog role.
Botswana has two opposition parties. The ruling party polled 65 percent of the votes in the 2014 elections.
Mozambique had the highest number of people in the region that felt the opposition should play a watchdog role. Thirty-two percent felt so. It has two opposition parties and the ruling party won 58 percent of the votes in its last elections in 2014.
Mozambique is also the only Southern African country where more and more people are appreciating the watchdog role of the opposition.
The ruling party in Namibia polled the highest number of votes, 80 percent leaving the balance to 10 opposition parties. It is tied with South Africa with 28 percent supporting the watchdog role of parliament. But South Africa has 13 opposition parties in Parliament and the ruling party won 62 percent of the vote in 2014.
Only 26 percent of Zimbabweans supported the watchdog role of the opposition, a drop of six percentage points from a peak of 32 percent seven years ago. The ruling party won 76 percent of the votes in the last elections in 2013.