John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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The New Architecture of South African Politics

by John Campbell
Leader of South Africa's Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane looks on next to Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosiuoa Lekota, ahead of a media briefing in Sandton, South Africa, August 17,2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Leader of South Africa's Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane looks on next to Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosiuoa Lekota, ahead of a media briefing in Sandton, South Africa, August 17,2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Following the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) decline in the August 3 municipal elections, in effect a referendum on the scandal plagued administration of President Jacob Zuma, South African politics looks dramatically different. The big winners were the formal opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a radical party based in the townships. But, minority parties are also more important now. In the elections, in four metropolitan areas and twenty-three smaller local councils, no single party secured the necessary 50 percent plus one majority. A largely monolithic ANC (it had controlled all of the major metropolitan areas except Cape Town and still has a huge majority in the National Assembly), now faces multiparty coalitions in Johannesburg, Tshwane (Pretoria), Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth), and Rustenburg. These metros are at the heart of South Africa’s modern economy; Johannesburg is the richest city in sub-Saharan Africa and the country’s economic engine. Of the largest metros, the ANC retains unchallenged control only of Durban. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: August 13 – August 19

by John Campbell
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 August 13, 2016 to August 19, 2016. 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 »

United States Foreign Policy Priorities in West Africa

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (R) greets U.S. President Barack Obama before the start of the second plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 1, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (R) greets U.S. President Barack Obama before the start of the second plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 1, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The below remarks come from a speech delivered on August 16, at an Area Studies Seminar at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Foreign Service Institute, Arlington, Virginia.

I would like to open with thanks to the Foreign Service Institute for the opportunity to talk about U.S. foreign policy priorities in the Sahel and West Africa. I would hope that these formal remarks will help to frame our subsequent discussion. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: August 6 – August 12

by John Campbell
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 August 6, 2016 to August 12, 2016. 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 »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: July 30 – August 5

by John Campbell
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 July 30, 2016 to August 5, 2016. 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 »

After the Vote, It’s “Morning in South Africa”

by John Campbell and Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the official announcement of the municipal election results at the result center in Pretoria, South Africa, August 6, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the official announcement of the municipal election results at the result center in Pretoria, South Africa, August 6, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

This post was co-authored by John Campbell and Allen Grane, research associate for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Many friends of South Africa’s post-1994 “non-racial democracy” have seen developments within the ruling African National Congress (ANC), especially under Jacob Zuma, as threatening the open political system based on the rule of law. So long as voting was largely determined by racial identity, the 80 percent of South Africa’s population that is black seemed to ensure that the party would remain in power indefinitely. The White, Coloured, and Asian minorities supported the Democratic Alliance (DA), but together they are not large enough to constitute an alternative to the ANC, except on the provincial level. (The DA has long dominated predominately Coloured and White Western Cape.) The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which calls for an assault on White “privilege,” were largely confined to the townships. Read more »

South Africa’s Municipal Elections

by John Campbell
A man casts his ballot during South Africa's local government elections in KwaMashu, north of Durban, South Africa, August 3, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) A man casts his ballot during South Africa's local government elections in KwaMashu, north of Durban, South Africa, August 3, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

“It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings,” and at the time of this writing, between 80 and 90 percent of the ballots in South Africa’s 2016 municipal elections have been counted. Most provinces have tallied over 80 percent of the vote, with the exception of Gauteng where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located. Nevertheless, it is likely that current trends will hold. If so, about 53 to 54 percent of the vote will go to the African National congress (ANC), vice 62.15 percent in the 2014 national elections; between 27 and 28 percent to the Democratic Alliance (DA), vice 22.23 percent in 2014; between 7 and 8 percent to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), vice 6.35 percent in 2014; and, between 4 and 5 percent to the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), vice 2.4 percent in 2014. (The remainder is split among the myriad small parties.) Read more »

South Africa Votes

by John Campbell
Locals queue to cast their votes during the Local Government elections in Diepsloot township, north of Johannesburg, South Africa August 3, 2016. (Reuters/James Oatway) Locals queue to cast their votes during the Local Government elections in Diepsloot township, north of Johannesburg, South Africa August 3, 2016. (Reuters/James Oatway)

South Africans are voting today, August 3, 2016, in nationwide municipal elections that are widely regarded as a referendum on President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Economic growth has slowed to near zero, unemployment is sky-high, and the Zuma administration is mired in credible accusations of corruption. There are indications that voter turnout will be heavy; up to 77 percent of eligible voters (or 26 million people) are expected to cast their vote, up 11 percent from the last municipal elections. Nevertheless, an ANC electoral rout is not certain. (High voter turn out is encouraged by the fact that election day is a public holiday in South Africa.) Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: July 23 – July 29

by John Campbell
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 July 23, 2016 to July 29, 2016. 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 »

Zimbabwe Update: #ThisFlag and War Veterans

by John Campbell
Supporters of Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire's sit outside the Harare Magistrates court during Mawarire's trial, July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Supporters of Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire's sit outside the Harare Magistrates court during Mawarire's trial, July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

The Mugabe regime appears to be continuing to unravel. After the regime arrested Evan Mawarire, a Christian pastor who has emerged as a leader of the protest movement #ThisFlag, judges in an unusual show of independence, ordered his release. Mawarire has now gone to South Africa, but denies he is seeking asylum, according to media. The media also reports that President Robert Mugabe has now referred to Mawarire by name, accusing him of organizing “violent” protests: “So beware these men of cloth, not all of them are true preachers of the Bible. I don’t know whether they are serving God. They spell God in reverse.” The Mugabe regime is also accusing “Western embassies” of supporting the #ThisFlag movement, especially the American and French ambassadors. Protests organized by #ThisFlag have been non-violent. However, there has been violence associated with the official security services. Read more »