John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Democracy"

South Africa’s May National Elections a Watershed? Not Yet

by John Campbell
Supporters of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party cheer at the launch of the EFF's election manifesto in Tembisa township, east of Johannesburg, February 22, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Supporters of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party cheer at the launch of the EFF's election manifesto in Tembisa township, east of Johannesburg, February 22, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is in decline, but it will most likely win the upcoming elections on May 7. Many voters are angry over its corruption, symbolized by public money spent on President Jacob Zuma’s private, African-styled Versailles named Nkandla, and last year’s unresolved police brutality, labor disputes, and other issues at the Marikana platinum mine. Read more »

Zimbabwe and Nigeria: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Most Corrupt of Them All?

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, February 23, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, February 23, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Robert Mugabe, the poster boy for bad governance in Africa, said last month that Zimbabweans were behaving “like Nigerians” with respect to bribes and corruption. This, he implied, is not a good thing. Read more »

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma Stonewalls on Corruption Charges

by John Campbell
A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters 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. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters) A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters 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. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters)

South Africa’s Public Protector stated in a recent report that taxpayer money funded improvements to Nkandla, President Jacob Zuma’s private estate. The public protector found this “unconscionable, excessive, and caused a misappropriation of public funds.” President Zuma made his first public comment on March 31, in remarks carried by a TV station. He said, “I never did anything wrong.” In effect, he is blaming his subordinates within the governing African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

Tracking South Africa’s Democracy in Real Time

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A search of FACTIVA’s database revealed preliminary evidence that reporting on service delivery protests has been increasing since the early 2000s, with a sharp downturn in 2013. However, this data is limited by internal factors such as FACTIVA’s addition of new sources and external factors like the media’s use of the term “service delivery protest.”
Source: FACTIVA A search of FACTIVA’s database revealed preliminary evidence that reporting on service delivery protests has been increasing since the early 2000s, with a sharp downturn in 2013. However, this data is limited by internal factors such as FACTIVA’s addition of new sources and external factors like the media’s use of the term “service delivery protest.” Source: FACTIVA

This is a guest post by Le Chen, Janice Dean, Jesper Frant, and Rachana Kumar. They are Master of Public Administration students at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs. They are working with Ambassador John Campbell on a graduate practicum project, which was made possible by faculty adviser Professor Anne Nelson. A longer version of this post appeared on the World Policy Blog. Read more »

Nigerian Human Rights Organization Calls for an Inquiry into March 30 Deaths at Security Services Headquarters

by John Campbell
An army vehicle is seen parked at the entrance of the LEA primary school refugee centre, following a raid by gunmen who killed over 100 people last Friday at Angwan Gata, Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) An army vehicle is seen parked at the entrance of the LEA primary school refugee centre, following a raid by gunmen who killed over 100 people last Friday at Angwan Gata, Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Access to Justice, a distinguished Nigerian human rights organization, has released a statement which questions the official explanation for the shoot-out between the security forces and alleged Boko Haram detainees on March 30 in Abuja at the headquarters of the State Security Services. The incident resulted in the death of twenty-one detainees. In a published statement on April 2, the executive director, Joseph Otteh, in effect demolishes the official explanation of what happened and calls for an independent inquiry, which would be published and available to the public. He also calls for any person that killed a detainee without lawful justification to be brought to justice. Read more »

South African President Jacob Zuma’s “Let Them Eat Cake” Moment?

by John Campbell
A general view of the Nkandla home of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, August 2, 2012. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters) A general view of the Nkandla home of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, August 2, 2012. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters)

There is an apocryphal story that in France, King Louis XVI’s queen Marie Antoinette was once told, “Madame, the people have no bread.” To which she replied, “then let them eat cake.” The reality behind the story was of a self-centered court widely perceived as isolated from the French people. The French Revolution followed shortly after. Read more »

“Africa Rising” and Freedom of the Press

by John Campbell
Major General Fred Mugisha, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Force Commander, shows the media examples of components of improvised explosive devices that have been found on the streets of Mogadishu, which were subsequently defused, removed and deactivated by AMISOM in Mogadishu in a photograph released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team November 29, 2011. (AU-UN/Stuart Price/Courtesy Reuters) Major General Fred Mugisha, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Force Commander, shows the media examples of components of improvised explosive devices that have been found on the streets of Mogadishu, which were subsequently defused, removed and deactivated by AMISOM in Mogadishu in a photograph released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team November 29, 2011. (AU-UN/Stuart Price/Courtesy Reuters)

The “Africa Rising” narrative that reflects GDP growth of many African economies is strongly supported by sub-Saharan governments, African popular opinion, and by business interests, at home and abroad. Mohamed Keita from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) writes a salutary reminder that the authorities in too many cases try to suppress home media challenges to this positive and optimistic narrative. Read more »

Uganda and the African Standby Force

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A soldier from the Somali National Army uses a belt acting as a weapon during a training exercise in Mogadishu, March 28, 2013. (Tobin Jones/Courtesy Reuters) A soldier from the Somali National Army uses a belt acting as a weapon during a training exercise in Mogadishu, March 28, 2013. (Tobin Jones/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is currently an officer in the Army National Guard. His interests are in Africa, conflict, and conflict resolution.

Since 2003, The African Union Peace and Security Council has sought to establish an African Standby Force, whose purpose would be to rapidly respond to conflicts and emergency situations in Africa. Since then the Council has proposed several structural versions of a standby force to fill this rapid reaction role, none of which have yet yielded results. In the meantime it appears that the Ugandan government is using its own military to fill this role. Read more »

Standoff Between Nigeria’s New Defense Minister and the Chief of Defense Staff

by John Campbell
New Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh (L), and the new Air Force Chief Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu salute during a handing over ceremony in Abuja January 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) New Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh (L), and the new Air Force Chief Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu salute during a handing over ceremony in Abuja January 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Earlier in the week a guest blogger and I published separate posts on Nigeria’s new defense minister, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau. The two blog posts, while covering different aspects of the appointment, saw it as a positive step, providing the possibility for a new Abuja approach to the “Boko Haram” insurrection in northern Nigeria.  Read more »

Dust Up Between Pretoria and Kigali

by John Campbell
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame (2nd L) pays his respects to former South African president Nelson Mandela on the last day of Mandela's lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, December 13, 2013. (Alexander Joe/Courtesy Reuteres) Rwanda's President Paul Kagame (2nd L) pays his respects to former South African president Nelson Mandela on the last day of Mandela's lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, December 13, 2013. (Alexander Joe/Courtesy Reuteres)

South Africa on Monday expelled three Rwandan officials from its embassy in Pretoria. They are charged with complicity in an assassination attempt against a Rwandan dissident living in South Africa. In response, Kigali expelled six South African diplomats. Read more »