John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

High Ranking Nigerian Officials Linked to Mysterious $43 Million

by John Campbell Friday, April 21, 2017
A trader changes dollars with naira at a currency exchange store in Lagos, February 12, 2015. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

On April 12, Nigeria’s principal anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), announced that it had found $43.4 million stashed in a vacant apartment in Lagos. The cash was in U.S. dollars, British pounds, and Nigerian naira. The EFCC did not reveal the owner of the cash—if it even knows. The EFCC said its seizure was the result of a tip-off under a program whereby the whistle-blower received 2.5 percent of recovered funds. The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the cash. Read more »

Airport Reopens at Nigeria’s Capital

by John Campbell Thursday, April 20, 2017
Employees arrange the red carpet prior to the departure of the planes of the French delegation at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria, May 14, 2016. (Reuters/Stephane De Sakutin/Pool)

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja (the second busiest airport in the country after Lagos) reopened on April 18, after having been closed for six weeks since March 8 for runway repairs. Following the repairs, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority has officially certified the airport for operations. The airport reopened one day ahead of schedule, with the first international flight by Ethiopian Airlines. Read more »

Podcast: Politics in Jacob Zuma’s South Africa

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 19, 2017
South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan speaks to President Jacob Zuma (R) during closing remarks during the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban, March 27, 2013. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

In this episode of Africa in Transition, John Campbell and Allen Grane catch up with Simon Freemantle, senior political economist at Standard Bank Research. Recorded days before President Jacob Zuma’s removal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the podcast addresses the complex factors at play in South African politics. Read more »

No Confidence Vote Postponed in South Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 18, 2017
President Jacob Zuma looks on as members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party raise objections during Zuma's question and answer session in Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, September 13, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Speaker of the South African National Assembly Baleka Mbete has postponed the date for a vote of no confidence in the government of Jacob Zuma from April 18 to early May. The delay was caused by the request to the Constitutional Court from the United Democratic Movement (UDM) that the vote be by secret ballot. The court has agreed to review the case, but has not yet made a decision. The speaker, who agreed to wait on the courts decision, is a political ally of President Jacob Zuma and is the national chairperson of his African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 8 – April 14

by John Campbell Monday, April 17, 2017
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from April 8 to April 14, 2017. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Former President George W. Bush, advocates for PEPFAR and Africa

by John Campbell Friday, April 14, 2017
Former US President George W. Bush poses for a photograph with children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Former President George W. Bush’s trip to Botswana and Namibia is a reminder of perhaps his signature achievement in office, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR. In an April 7, 2017 op-ed in the Washington Post the former president urged the Trump administration to continue full funding for the program. He argued that PEPFAR was “a program that works” citing the almost twelve million lives that the program has saved since its inception in 2003. Read more »

Executions Down, Death Sentences up in Sub-Saharan Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, April 13, 2017
Protesters take part in a protest against Indonesia's decision to execute 14 drug convicts, including one Nigerian national, outside the Indonesian embassy in Abuja, July 28, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

It is easy to lose sight of the decline in capital punishment in Africa. Of the fifty-four states with UN membership, sixteen maintain the death penalty and use it; eighteen permit it (but have carried out no executions during the past ten years), and twenty have abolished it. Further abolition continues: Benin abolished the death penalty in 2016, Congo in 2015, and Madagascar in 2015. Perhaps the most famous example of abolition of capital punishment is South Africa, where it was abolished by the country’s constitutional court in 1995, following a five-year moratorium. Read more »

South Africa Prepares for Zuma No Confidence Vote

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Protesters hold placards as they march in South AfricaÕs capital to protest against President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, South Africa, April 12 ,2017. (REUTERS/Marius Bosch)

The National Assembly will vote on April 18, on a motion of no confidence in the African National Congress’ (ANC) Zuma administration. The motion has been put forward by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and is supported by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The occasion of the vote is Zuma’s earlier cabinet reshuffle which is perceived by many as having opened the flood gates to cronyism and corruption. The ANC has 249 seats out of 400 in the National Assembly. The two largest opposition parties are the DA, with eighty-nine seats, and the EFF, with twenty-five. The seats of all the other opposition parties together number thirty-seven. The ANC party leadership seems to have rallied around Zuma, and it must be expected that the motion will fail. Read more »

South African Demonstrations Unlikely to Move the ANC and Zuma

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Demonstrators carry banners as they take part in a protest calling for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg, South Africa, April 7, 2017. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Over the Palm Sunday weekend, there were large demonstrations in South Africa’s urban centers against President Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC) in the aftermath of last week’s cabinet reshuffle. The largest demonstrations took place in Cape Town and Pretoria, where, according to the media, demonstrators numbered in the tens of thousands. Elsewhere, demonstrations were much smaller. The demonstrations received extensive media coverage internationally and in the United States, however, they will certainly have no impact on Zuma’s position or the ANC in the short term. For his part, Zuma accused the protestors of being racist. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 1- April 7

by John Campbell Monday, April 10, 2017
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from April 1 to April 7, 2017. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »