John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Civil Society"

Christian Association of Nigeria Warns Against Arrest of Goodluck Jonathan

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) presents a gift to president-elect Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) presents a gift to president-elect Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

According to Nigerian media, the northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) warned President Muhammadu Buhari that “Nigeria would boil” if former President Goodluck Jonathan, the “hero of democracy,” were arrested as part of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign. Read more »

The Constitution and Rule of Law Reaffirmed in South Africa

by John Campbell
Mosiuoa Lekota (C) of the opposition party, Congress of the People (COPE) celebrates with Kevin Malunga deputy public protector after South Africa's constitutional court ordered President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home in Johannesburg, March 31, 2016. (Reuters/Felix Dlangamandla/Pool) Mosiuoa Lekota (C) of the opposition party, Congress of the People (COPE) celebrates with Kevin Malunga deputy public protector after South Africa's constitutional court ordered President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home in Johannesburg, March 31, 2016. (Reuters/Felix Dlangamandla/Pool)

On March 31, the eleven justices of South Africa’s highest judicial body, the Constitutional Court, ruled unanimously that President Jacob Zuma and the National Assembly had violated the Constitution. The president, the court ruled, had improperly spent public money on his private estate, Nkandla. The National Assembly had improperly defended the president by refusing to implement the ruling of the public protector, a constitutionally mandated official, when she concluded that the expenditure had been improper. Read more »

Therapy for a Broken Nigerian Community

by John Campbell
A local vigilante checks a vehicle at a check point in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A local vigilante checks a vehicle at a check point in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

The consequences of the brutal war between Boko Haram and the Nigerian security services will be with us for a long time. In the BBC’s series, “Letter from Africa,” Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani describes how the experience of Boko Haram occupation and subsequent liberation exacerbated the division between Christians and Muslims in the town of Michika. Christians and Muslims now hold their markets on different days of the week, and children from each community taunt those from the other. Nwaubani sums it up, “These days, the Christians and Muslims cannot stand each other.” She reports that the town was liberated by the Nigerian military after seven months of Boko Haram occupation, but security is now in the hands of “professional game hunters” and “vigilantes,” two informal, nongovernmental groups that are also suspicious of each other, even though their memberships are religiously mixed. Read more »

Fire Destroys Market in Nigeria’s Second Largest City

by John Campbell
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Balogun market at the business district in Lagos January 12, 2015.  (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Balogun market at the business district in Lagos January 12, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Over the weekend—near the end of the Christian observance of Holy Week—a fire broke out in Kano’s Sabon Gari market. It eventually destroyed 3,800 shops, according to the Nigeria Emergency Management Administration (NEMA), obliterated at least two trillion naira (approximately ten billion dollars) worth of goods, and affected at least 18,000 traders. The NEMA director general said, “This is the biggest market fire outbreak Nigeria has ever witnessed. This is a serious calamity.” (Despite the magnitude of the disaster it has not been reported in the mainstream Western media.) Read more »

Nielsen: Ivory Coast Now Top Business Prospect in Africa

by John Campbell
A worker holds cocoa beans at SAF CACAO, a export firm in San-Pedro, Ivory Coast, January 29, 2016. (Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon) A worker holds cocoa beans at SAF CACAO, a export firm in San-Pedro, Ivory Coast, January 29, 2016. (Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon)

Nielsen’s “Africa’s Prospects: Macro Environment, Business, Consumer and Retail Outlook Indicators” of February 2016 rank orders sub-Saharan Africa’s nine leading markets. The list represents 71% of the region’s GDP, and half of its population. Ivory Coast is ranked first, Kenya second, Tanzania third, and Nigeria is fourth. It ranks Zambia as fifth, Cameroon as sixth, South Africa as seventh, Uganda as eighth, and Ghana brings up the rear. Read more »

South Africa’s President Zuma in Trouble with His Party

by John Campbell
President Jacob Zuma answers questions at Parliament in Cape Town, March 17, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) President Jacob Zuma answers questions at Parliament in Cape Town, March 17, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has often been accused of corruption. But, until recently his hold on the governing African National Congress (ANC), with its huge parliamentary majority, has ensured that he could weather political storms. However, his recent missteps have eroded his support within the party. There is speculation that the party could remove him as party leader which would likely result in his resigning the presidency. While such speculation is premature, he is certainly politically damaged. The greatest threat to Zuma’s political future is now from within his own political party, rather than from the opposition. Read more »

South Africa’s Trade Union Federation to Split

by John Campbell
Suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi (C) protests with members of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) as they march through Durban, March 19, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) Suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi (C) protests with members of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) as they march through Durban, March 19, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a federation of labor unions, played a crucial role in the struggle against apartheid. It provided much of the personnel that mobilized voters for the African National Congress (ANC) from the country‘s first “all-race” elections in 1994 up to now. COSATU, the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the ANC form the coalition that governs the country. COSATU and SACP contest elections as part of the ANC. Read more »

Never Never Land in South Africa

by John Campbell
African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe gestures during a media briefing at the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, April 6, 2009. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe gestures during a media briefing at the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, April 6, 2009. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe is accusing the United States and its embassy in Pretoria of plotting “regime change” in South Africa. In public remarks on February 19, Mantashe referred to “clandestine meetings” at the American embassy that “are about nothing else other than mobilization for regime change. We’re aware of a program that takes young people to the United States for six weeks, brings them back and plants them everywhere.” Following up, the ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said that the U.S. government must clarify the “irregular activities” of its diplomats, asserting “We believe the matter will be pursued using the proper channels going forward. At this stage there is nothing more we can say on the matter.” Read more »

South African Icon Disillusioned with Ruling Party Leadership

by John Campbell
A copy of a combo picture showing Rivonia trialists with their names written by hand is seen on the wall in Maybuye Center in Cape Town, March 10, 2005. From L to R on the top row are Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Gowan Mbeki and Raymond Mhlaba and on the bottom row are Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada, and Dennis Goldberg. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti) A copy of a combo picture showing Rivonia trialists with their names written by hand is seen on the wall in Maybuye Center in Cape Town, March 10, 2005. From L to R on the top row are Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Gowan Mbeki and Raymond Mhlaba and on the bottom row are Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada, and Dennis Goldberg. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)

On January 24, in London, UK Prime Minister David Cameron honored Nelson Mandela’s three surviving co-defendants at the 1964 Rivonia trial. They were Denis Goldberg, Ahmad Kathrada, and Andrew Mlangeni. Cameron also honored their suriviving defense attorneys, Lord Joel Joffe and George Bizos, who succeeded in avoiding the death penalty for their clients, though not twenty-six years of imprisonment. Read more »

Comedy and Democracy in South Africa

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma laughs as he delivers his State of the Nation Address after the formal opening of Parliament in Cape Town, February 14, 2013. (Reuters//Rodger Bosch/Pool) South African President Jacob Zuma laughs as he delivers his State of the Nation Address after the formal opening of Parliament in Cape Town, February 14, 2013. (Reuters//Rodger Bosch/Pool)

For most Americans, their first exposure to South African comedy has been Trevor Noah, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” Noah’s January 20, riff on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump is an example of South African standup comedy at its best, with the added dimension of an African “seeing us as others see us.” One example is his comment that America is such a great place because “…presidents might have term limits but Sarah Palin is forever.” Read more »