John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Democracy"

Affordable Housing Crisis in Johannesburg

by John Campbell
General view of Alexandra township, commonly known as Alex, a slum
overlooking the Sandton skyscrapers in Johannesburg, March 26, 2002.
(Reuters/Juda Ngwenya) General view of Alexandra township, commonly known as Alex, a slum overlooking the Sandton skyscrapers in Johannesburg, March 26, 2002. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya)

In general, the economies of the United States and South Africa are based on the “Washington Consensus” of free markets to encourage economic growth. Both countries are characterized by growing inequality, with South Africa’s GINI coefficient (a measure of inequality) the worst of any large country in the world. Similarly, in some ways, social problems in South Africa resemble those in the United States. However, because South Africa is smaller and poorer than the United States, the issues are clearer. Johannesburg’s affordable housing crisis recalls similar phenomenon in high-cost American cities like New York, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C. But in Johannesburg the housing crisis is starker and more visible. Read more »

The looming showdown in the Gambia

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh receives a delegation of West African leaders including President John Mahama of Ghana and Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari for a meeting on election crisis in Banjul, Gambia, December 13, 2016. (Reuters/Stringer) Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh receives a delegation of West African leaders including President John Mahama of Ghana and Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari for a meeting on election crisis in Banjul, Gambia, December 13, 2016. (Reuters/Stringer)

This is a guest post by Mohamed Jallow, an Africa watcher, following politics and economic currents across the continent. He works at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

The Gambia is in a political crisis. The country’s longtime strongman, President Yahya Jammeh lost his bid for re-election to a fifth term earlier this month. After initially conceding defeat, he is refusing to step down. Citing irregularities on the part of the Electoral Commission, Jammeh has rejected the results, and is calling for fresh elections. Read more »

Ethnicity, Control, and Coups d’État

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Burkinabe President Michel Kafando speaks at a news conference after soldiers took control of the Naaba Koom military camp in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 30, 2015. (Reuters/Arnaud Brunet TPX images of the day) Burkinabe President Michel Kafando speaks at a news conference after soldiers took control of the Naaba Koom military camp in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 30, 2015. (Reuters/Arnaud Brunet TPX images of the day)

This is a guest post by Tyler Lycan. Tyler is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, he recently obtained his Masters in International Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews, and is a former U.S. Marine. Read more »

Sub-Saharan Africa and a Trump Administration

by John Campbell
A man hands a newspaper to a customer at a news stand in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton) A man hands a newspaper to a customer at a news stand in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

Media indicates that sub-Saharan African opinion is as astonished as everybody else at Donald Trump’s presidential victory. As appears to be true in much of the rest of the world, African opinion makers do not welcome itThe New York Times cites a Nigerian political science professor as saying that most Nigerians believe that a Trump administration will focus little on international issues. It also quotes Kenyan columnist Mafdharia Gaitho as saying, “If Trump wins, God forbid, then we will have to reassess our relations with the United States.” These views accord with what I am hearing. Read more »

Exit of South Africa’s Finance Minister? Not So Fast

by John Campbell
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan reacts during a media briefing in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo) Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan reacts during a media briefing in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo)

Pravin Gordhan faces charges of fraud and has been summoned to the Pretoria Regional Court on November 2. The charges appear to be spurious. They concern Gordhan’s approval of the early retirement of a government employee and his subsequent re-employment under contract. The claim is that the amount of money involved is just over ZAR 1.1 million (approximately $76,000). Early retirement followed by re-engagement on contract is commonplace in many governments, including that of South Africa. Read more »

Nigeria Moves Against Corrupt Judges

by John Campbell
Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

According to the Nigerian media, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) arrested seven judges over the weekend for corruption and is planning to move against an additional eight. Among the seven are three supreme court justices. The arrested judges are to be arraigned in court yesterday and then released on bail. Read more »

Nigeria’s War Against Indiscipline

by John Campbell
Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari rides on the motorcade while inspecting the guard of honour at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari rides on the motorcade while inspecting the guard of honour at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

In 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari said “The long-cherished and time honored, time-tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, good neighborliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, have given way in the main to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.” He said much the same thing when he was military chief of state from 1983 to 1985. Read more »

Protesting Power: Ethnic Demonstrations Continue in Ethiopia

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A policeman attempts to control protesters chanting slogans during a demonstration over what they say is unfair distribution of wealth in the country at Meskel Square in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, August 6, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) A policeman attempts to control protesters chanting slogans during a demonstration over what they say is unfair distribution of wealth in the country at Meskel Square in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, August 6, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

This is a guest post by Zara Riaz, a research specialist in the Politics Department at Princeton University.

In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia stands out among neighbors for its political and economic stability. Recent protests and escalating violence, however, expose Ethiopia’s longstanding political tensions and pose a serious threat to the government’s ability to maintain its strong hold. Read more »

Troubling Clampdown on Opposition in Tanzania

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Former Tanzania's Prime Minister and main opposition party CHADEMA presidential candidate Edward Lowassa (C) addresses a campaign rally at Ruaha in Kilombelo District in Tanzania, October 23, 2015. Tanzanians will go to the poll on October 25, to elect the fifth president.  (Reuters/Emmanuel Herman) Former Tanzania's Prime Minister and main opposition party CHADEMA presidential candidate Edward Lowassa (C) addresses a campaign rally at Ruaha in Kilombelo District in Tanzania, October 23, 2015. Tanzanians will go to the poll on October 25, to elect the fifth president. (Reuters/Emmanuel Herman)

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

Tanzanian President John Magufuli is known as “the Bulldozer,” a moniker reflecting his knack for pushing through big infrastructure projects during his time as minister of works. As president, he has received praise for his anti-corruption platform, as well as his very public displays of support for government thrift. However, Magufuli has also tightened the vise on opposition to his party. Read more »

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 »