John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Civil Society"

Better Economic News from South Africa

by John Campbell
Mineworkers walk to the Wonderkop stadium near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine for check-ins before returning to work, June 25, 2014. Tens of thousands of South African platinum miners returned to work on Wednesday after wage deals ended the longest and most damaging strike in the country's history. (Reuters/Skyler Reid) Mineworkers walk to the Wonderkop stadium near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine for check-ins before returning to work, June 25, 2014. Tens of thousands of South African platinum miners returned to work on Wednesday after wage deals ended the longest and most damaging strike in the country's history. (Reuters/Skyler Reid)

South Africa’s general malaise owes much to its very slow recovery from the international economic crisis that began in the United States in 2008. The country’s gross domestic product growth rate has declined from a usual 3 percent to 1.5 percent in 2014. Weaker commodities prices have also slowed an economy that still includes a large mineral export sector. Read more »

African Chiefs of State and the Law

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015. Obama toured a U.S.-supported food factory in Ethiopia on Tuesday on the last leg of an Africa trip, before winding up his visit at the African Union where he will become the first U.S. president to address the 54-nation body. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015. Obama toured a U.S.-supported food factory in Ethiopia on Tuesday on the last leg of an Africa trip, before winding up his visit at the African Union where he will become the first U.S. president to address the 54-nation body. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

In his rightfully celebrated speech at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa on July 28, President Barack Obama proclaimed, “no one person is above the law, not even the president.” This is a fundamental principle of American law, based on centuries of English precedent, but it is by no means universally accepted. Read more »

Buhari Visit to Reset the Bilateral Relationship

by John Campbell
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry (L) sits beside Nigeria's former military ruler and opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari at the U.S. consulate house in Lagos January 25, 2015. Kerry was in Nigeria to urge its rival political camps to respect the outcome of a Feb. 14 presidential election. Washington is concerned that post-poll violence could undermine the stability of Africa's top oil producer and hamper efforts to tackle the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. "Given the stakes it's absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully," Kerry told reporters in the commercial capital Lagos after meeting President Goodluck Jonathan and main opposition rival Buhari. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) U.S Secretary of State John Kerry (L) sits beside Nigeria's former military ruler and opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari at the U.S. consulate house in Lagos January 25, 2015. Kerry was in Nigeria to urge its rival political camps to respect the outcome of a Feb. 14 presidential election. Washington is concerned that post-poll violence could undermine the stability of Africa's top oil producer and hamper efforts to tackle the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. "Given the stakes it's absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully," Kerry told reporters in the commercial capital Lagos after meeting President Goodluck Jonathan and main opposition rival Buhari. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

At the invitation of the Obama administration, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is making an official visit to Washington, D.C. from July 20 to July 24. The visit is an opportunity to reset a bilateral relationship that had chilled under former President Goodluck Jonathan, in part because of the Nigerian security service’s human rights violations in the fight against the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, and in part because of vocal criticism from the Jonathan administration that the United States was not doing enough to help in the struggle against Boko Haram. Now, an indication of the importance of the visit to the Obama administration is that President Buhari will be staying at Blair House, the official guest house, even though this is not a state visit, which are usually arranged long in advance and more ceremonial than substantive. Read more »

South Africa Tops African University Rankings

by John Campbell
Second-year civil engineering student and first-time voter Nkululeko Simelane poses for a picture at Wits University in Johannesburg, April 22, 2014. Nkululeko said "For me voting for the first time... I don't want to lie I don't have the energy. The only thing that is pushing me to vote is that it is for the first time I don't want to miss it". Around 20 million South Africans - or some 40 percent of the population - are so-called "Born Frees," the term bestowed on the first generation to grow up with no memory of apartheid. April 27 this year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first multi-racial elections, which ended three centuries of white domination and 46 years of formalised oppression of the black majority under the apartheid system. Picture taken April 22, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Second-year civil engineering student and first-time voter Nkululeko Simelane poses for a picture at Wits University in Johannesburg, April 22, 2014. Nkululeko said "For me voting for the first time... I don't want to lie I don't have the energy. The only thing that is pushing me to vote is that it is for the first time I don't want to miss it". Around 20 million South Africans - or some 40 percent of the population - are so-called "Born Frees," the term bestowed on the first generation to grow up with no memory of apartheid. April 27 this year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first multi-racial elections, which ended three centuries of white domination and 46 years of formalised oppression of the black majority under the apartheid system. Picture taken April 22, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Numerous organizations and publications rank universities around the world. The value of the exercise is inherently controversial, and by definition it has winners and losers. Nevertheless, rankings always command a large audience. One ranking that focuses on Africa is Journals Consortium. According to its website, it offers scholarly publishers web applications that provide technical, marketing, and editorial support “critical to the success of their journals in the e-publishing environment.” It has compiled a rank-order list of the one hundred top universities in Africa. Its stated criteria is research publications, scholarly citations, and visibility on the internet. In this ranking, African universities are competing only against other African universities, rather than with institutions outside the continent. Read more »

Burundi: What Went Wrong?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

Over the weekend, 170 opposition fighters were captured and thirty-one killed by Burundian armed forces in the Chibitoke region (near the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). This is the latest in a series of violent incidents following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term in office in violation of Burundi’s constitution. Last week Nkurunziza’s party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), announced victory in the parliamentary elections, despite an opposition boycott and the UN proclamation that the vote was not free, fair, or credible. Once a post-conflict success story, Burundi now threatens to relapse into violence, raising questions about what went wrong in the peacebuilding process. Read more »

Upsurge in Boko Haram Attacks

by John Campbell
People walk along a road as they flee, in Maiduguri in Borno State, Nigeria May 14, 2015. At least six civilians and six members of a youth vigilante group were killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants on Nigeria's northeastern city Maiduguri, two military sources said on May 14, 2015. (Reuters/Stringer) People walk along a road as they flee, in Maiduguri in Borno State, Nigeria May 14, 2015. At least six civilians and six members of a youth vigilante group were killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants on Nigeria's northeastern city Maiduguri, two military sources said on May 14, 2015. (Reuters/Stringer)

There has been a significant upsurge in attacks in Nigeria attributed to Boko Haram. At least 200 were killed over the July 4 weekend, which is in the midst of Ramadan. Read more »

South African Democracy and the International Criminal Court

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

For this outsider, the parliamentary and judicial response to the Zuma administration’s failure to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and turn him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) provides a window in to the state of South African democracy. To me, it is clear that the Zuma government broke both South African and international law by not only failing to hold al-Bashir, though specifically ordered to do so by the South African judiciary, but also facilitated his clandestine departure. South African law is relevant because the South African government at the time incorporated the ICC treaty into its own legal system. Read more »

President Buhari to Visit the United States

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama gestures next to French President Francois Hollande (2L) and other G7 summit participants and outreach delegates at a family picture event at the G7 summit at the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Reuters/Christian Hartmann) U.S. President Barack Obama gestures next to French President Francois Hollande (2L) and other G7 summit participants and outreach delegates at a family picture event at the G7 summit at the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Reuters/Christian Hartmann)

The White House announced on June 25 that President Obama will host Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Washington, D.C. on July 20. The White House statement notes that both presidents will be accompanied by “senior advisors,” an indication that the visit will be more substantive than ceremonial. Read more »

South Africa’s EFF and Charleston

by John Campbell
Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leaves parliament with supporters in Cape Town, August 21, 2014. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leaves parliament with supporters in Cape Town, August 21, 2014. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a populist , far-left “revolutionary” political party led by Julius Malema is now the third largest in South Africa’s National Assembly under the system of proportional representation, though it received only about 6.35 percent of the votes in the 2014 elections. It has issued a statement on the Emanuel Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. It will have credibility, especially to those unfamiliar the United States. Read more »

South African Rule of Law Threatened

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

From the perspective of the expectations of Nelson Mandela, South Africa has been treading water, if not worse, especially since the national elections of 2014. Economic growth remains an anemic 2 percent or less, thereby challenging Mandela’s assumption that poverty could be eliminated rapidly. Public concerns about corruption remain unaddressed. Parliament appears increasingly dysfunctional. Its procedures are under assault by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters and stonewalling tactics by the Zuma government over corruption. Read more »