John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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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 »

The Kimani Murders and the Future of Police Accountability in Kenya

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Kenyan police officers Silvia Wanjiku, Stephen Chebulet (covering their heads) suspected of killing human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client and their driver, cover their heads as they are escorted from the dock at Milimani Law courts in Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) Kenyan police officers Silvia Wanjiku, Stephen Chebulet (covering their heads) suspected of killing human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client and their driver, cover their heads as they are escorted from the dock at Milimani Law courts in Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs graduate from the University of Toronto, where she currently researches justice reform. You can follow her on twitter at @claireLwilmot. 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 »

Nelson Mandela Day

by John Campbell
Nelson Mandela raises his fist to the crowd in Port Elizabeth, April 1, 1990. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya) Nelson Mandela raises his fist to the crowd in Port Elizabeth, April 1, 1990. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya)

Africa in Transition usually runs an update of the Nigeria Security Tracker on Mondays. However, July 18 is Nelson Mandela Day, so the Tracker update will appear on Tuesday, July 19.

Nelson Mandela was born July 18, 1918. He died in 2013; were he living, he would be 98 years of age. Read more »

South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Six Years Imprisonment

by John Campbell
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves the court after his sentence hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, July 6, 2016. (Reuters/Marco Longari/Pool) Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves the court after his sentence hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, July 6, 2016. (Reuters/Marco Longari/Pool)

The tragedy-as-soap-opera starring Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is over. Or, maybe not. Pistorius, a Paralympian gold medalist who also competed in non-disabled events, was a major media celebrity and hero in sports mad South Africa. In 2013, he killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by shooting her through a closed bathroom door. He maintains that he thought she was an intruder. Read more »

Zimbabwe and an “Arab Spring”

by John Campbell
Zimbabwean protesters wait outside the Harare Magistrates court before the arrival of arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwean protesters wait outside the Harare Magistrates court before the arrival of arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Zimbabwe is rapidly deteriorating, if not imploding. In the midst of a drought, estimates are that up to half of the rural population will face hunger or famine in the coming year. The economy is contracting, and the government is running out of hard currency, British sterling, the U.S. dollar, and the South African Rand, which it uses since it abandoned its own currency. The government is failing to pay its civil servants and some of its security forces and has imposed a ban on imports from South Africa. Unemployment figures are so high – up to 85 percent –as to be meaningless. The government’s diamond revenue is running out or diverted. President Robert Mugabe – at times referred to as “Uncle Bob” – is 92 years of age, and it shows. His political behavior is increasingly quixotic. He has abandoned a traditional pillar of his regime, the “war veterans,” who played a crucial role as Mugabe’s thugs and drove the white farmers out. He has even threatened the “veterans” with mayhem if they dabble in succession politics. Read more »

Update on South Africa’s Nkandla Scandal

by John Campbell
A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla, January 11, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla, January 11, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

As directed by the South African courts, the Treasury has determined that President Jacob Zuma owes the state ZAR 7.8 million (US$ 531,024) for work done on his private home, Nkandla. The South African government has spent over ZAR 246 million (US$ 16,747,680) ostensibly on “security upgrades.” Those include underground bunkers, a heliport, and elaborate communications facilities. But, they also include amenities not related to security such as a swimming pool, a chicken run, and a visitors’ center. It is these types of facilities for which the Treasury is seeking repayment. Read more »

Guinea-Bissau: The Road Ahead

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A delegate from Guinea-Bissau attends the opening plenary December 7, 2009 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the venue of the COP15 Climate Summit, which started today and runs till December 18. (Reuters/Keld Navntoft) A delegate from Guinea-Bissau attends the opening plenary December 7, 2009 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the venue of the COP15 Climate Summit, which started today and runs till December 18. (Reuters/Keld Navntoft)

This is a guest post by Russell Hanks. Mr. Hanks is a national security professional and a retired diplomat with the U.S. Department of State.

Guinea-Bissau has a new government, or not, only a few months after the previous attempt to paper over its seriously polarized politics. Elections in 2014 were indecisive and installed officials with the same differences that led to the 2012 coup. The current dispensation is no more likely to bring political stability to the nation than the last. Read more »

Massive Ivory Shipment Seized in South Sudan

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A customs officer arranges confiscated elephant tusks before a news conference at the Port Authority of Thailand in Bangkok, April 20, 2015. (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom) A customs officer arranges confiscated elephant tusks before a news conference at the Port Authority of Thailand in Bangkok, April 20, 2015. (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Last week, authorities at Juba International Airport seized nearly a ton and a half of ivory in South Sudan. This seizure highlights some of the critical factors in the fight against wildlife trafficking. Read more »