John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Apartheid"

Identity Politics in South Africa

by John Campbell
Students await the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town (UCT), April 9, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The African National Congress (ANC), which has governed South Africa since the 1994 transition to “non-racial democracy,” traditionally eschewed identity politics. Though its electoral support was overwhelmingly Black, the party recruited its leadership from all races, which included many Whites and Asians. Nelson Mandela’s emphasis on racial reconciliation was very much in the spirit of the ANC. He particularly emphasized that there was place for Whites in post-apartheid South Africa. Famously, he attended a rugby championship match, the subject of the film Invictus. (Rugby is a White, mostly Afrikaner sport). Read more »

The “K-word” in South Africa and Proposed New Penalties Against Hate Speech

by John Campbell
Members of South African President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) political party march to the headquarters of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) during a march against racism in Cape Town, in this picture taken January 22, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Following the social media circulation of a video in which a white woman lashes out at black police officers using racial slurs, the Zuma administration is proposing harsher penalties against hate speech. Proposed legislation would move hate speech cases from civil courts to criminal courts in South Africa. Currently punishable only by fines, “racist utterances and many other incidents of vicious crimes perpetrated under the influence of racial hate…has necessitated further measures,” according to the minister of justice. If the proposed legislation becomes law, a first-time offender could face three years in prison and a repeat offender up to ten years. Read more »

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)

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 »

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)

“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 »

Remarks on Morning in South Africa

by John Campbell
Wild flowers bloom on Cape Town's Table Mountain heralding the coming southern hemisphere spring, August 19, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The following text is the entirety of John Campbell’s speech delivered as part of the Department of State’s Ralph J Bunche Library Series, on June 8, 2016. 

From a certain perspective, South Africa is a mess. Many South Africans are disappointed by the way the country has seemingly squandered its promise as the ‘Rainbow Nation.’ Under the Jacob Zuma presidential administration, the country is treading water with respect to poverty and addressing the lasting consequences of apartheid. Corruption is rife. You can read all about it in the Mail and Guardian or the Daily Maverick. Read more »

U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits South Africa

by John Campbell
Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) smiles after being ceremonially sworn in at the US Capitol in Washington, November 15, 2010. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s “Ripples of Hope” speech at the University of Cape Town, a congressional delegation (codel) visited South Africa the last week of May. It was led by Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and an icon of the American civil rights movement; Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware; and Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Senator Kennedy and the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a U.S. based non-profit organization. Read more »

South Africa’s Land “Expropriation Bill”

by John Campbell
A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

There is less than meets the eye to the South African parliament’s passage at the end of May of a land reform bill, called the “Expropriation Bill.” Ostensibly, the new legislation has some similarity to law of eminent domain in the United States. The new legislation would permit the government to take land for a “public purpose,” but (as in the United States) South African landowners would be compensated with an amount determined by a new ‘valuer general.’ The new legislation replaces the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle of land reform. Read more »

Morning in South Africa

by John Campbell
From the cover of Morning in South Africa, a book written by John Campbell.

My new book on South Africa is now available in hardcover and Kindle. The book’s core argument is that despite the corruption and incompetency of the Zuma administration combined with slow economic growth, the country’s democratic institutions are strong enough to weather the current period of poor governance. Read more »

South Africa and Iran Aim to Resume Strong Trade Relationship

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 26, 2016. (Reuters/Faisal Mahmood)

Tyler Falish is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, and a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

South African President Jacob Zuma was in Iran for a two-day state visit on April 24 and 25. While in Tehran, Zuma and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signed eight bilateral trade agreements as part of a commitment to increase non-oil trade between the two countries. Trade between the two nations plummeted after the imposition of expanded sanctions on Iran by the U.S., EU, and UN. According to UN Comtrade, in 2012—the most recent year of significant trade between the two countries—trade was valued at approximately $1.3 billion. By comparison, bilateral trade in 2015 totaled only $30 million. Read more »

South African President Zuma’s Legal Problems Unlikely to Drive Him From Office

by John Campbell
Protesters call for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma as the country commemorates the anniversary the country's first democratic elections in Cape Town, April 27, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

South Africa’s High Court has ruled against the president yet again. It has determined that the prosecutor’s decision to drop 783 charges of corruption against Zuma should be reviewed. According to the BBC, Judge Aubrey Ledwaba characterized the 2009 decision to drop the charges as “irrational.” The ruling allows the National Prosecuting Authority to reinstate the charges, though it is unclear whether it will do so. Nevertheless, once again, South Africa’s judiciary has demonstrated its independence from the executive. Read more »