John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Democracy"

Fissures Within South Africa’s Governing Party

by John Campbell
Supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) wave a party flag during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, South Africa, January 9, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) wave a party flag during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, South Africa, January 9, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) has long been a big tent, with its membership united by opposition to apartheid and, less salient, support for “nonracial” democracy. Conventional wisdom has seen the ANC membership, policy, and electoral support as revolving around four poles or tendencies:  the “democrats,” devoted to Nelson Mandela’s vision of nonracial democracy and the protection of human rights; the South African Communist Party (SACP), in many ways a Marxist party of a generation ago in Western Europe, but also devoted to a nonracial state; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which promotes the interests of the country’s “labor aristocracy” rather than the unskilled unemployed; and the “Africanists,”  those who want a redistribution of wealth from whites to blacks and an assertion of black identity that recalls the Black Power movement in the United States. (Many of them would drop the nonracial modifiers of democracy.) Depending on the issue, support varies for each of these “tendencies,” and there is substantial overlap. In any event, however sliced and diced, the ANC is likely to remain intact to contest the August provincial and local government elections. Read more »

The International Criminal Court and Kenya’s Deputy President

by John Campbell
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto smiles in Nairobi (C, L) after judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday threw out post-election violence charges against him, in this April 5, 2016,handout picture. (Reuters/Charles Kimani/Presidential Press Service/Handout) Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto smiles in Nairobi (C, L) after judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday threw out post-election violence charges against him, in this April 5, 2016,handout picture. (Reuters/Charles Kimani/Presidential Press Service/Handout)

Contrary to misleading headlines, the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not acquit Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio personality Joshua Arap Sang of charges related to violence in the aftermath of the 2007 elections. (Amnesty International cites an estimate that there were 1,200 deaths and 350,000 persons displaced by the violence.) Instead of acquittal, the ICC vacated the charges and discharged the accused, but without prejudice to the prosecutor’s right to reprosecute in the future. Read more »

South Africa’s National Assembly Debates Impeachment of Zuma

by John Campbell
South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane listens in Parliament in Cape Town during a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma after the constitutional court ruled that he breached the constitution, April 5, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane listens in Parliament in Cape Town during a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma after the constitutional court ruled that he breached the constitution, April 5, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Last week, the Constitutional Court ruled that President Jacob Zuma and the National Assembly had violated the constitution with respect to the use of public money on the president’s Nkandla private estate and their collective failure to implement the ruling of the public protector. In the wake of that decision, Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), tabled a motion on the National Assembly to impeach the president. National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete scheduled debate on the impeachment motion for today, April 5. Conventional wisdom that the ANC’s overwhelming majority in the National Assembly would protect Zuma from impeachment proved correct, and the motion was defeated. 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 »

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 »

Africa’s Leadership

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace cut a birthday cake at celebrations at Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo, February 27, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace cut a birthday cake at celebrations at Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo, February 27, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

It is no secret that bad leadership at the top has long been a brake on the economic, political, and social development of certain African countries. Many years the Mo Ibrahim Prize for leadership by an African president who leaves office at the end of his term goes unrewarded. There have been numerous, egregious examples of bad presidential leadership over the past few weeks. Read more »

Electoral Observers and ‘Free and Fair’ Elections

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A supporter of opposition leader Kizza Besigye looks out from behind a gate of Besigye's office in Kampala, Uganda, February 19, 2016. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) A supporter of opposition leader Kizza Besigye looks out from behind a gate of Besigye's office in Kampala, Uganda, February 19, 2016. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

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

In late February, Yoweri Museveni was elected to his fifth term as Uganda’s president, extending a reign that officially began in 1986, but was preceded by years as an influential guerilla leader. The New York Times characterized the election as “widely criticized.” The main opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), had good reason to cry foul as party candidate Kizza Besigye was arrested twice in two days during the voting, and has been under house arrest almost continuously since the election on February 18. Read more »

Constitutional or Parliamentary Democracy in South Africa

by John Campbell
South Africa's ruling ANC (African National Congress) Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe addresses the media in Kempton Park, outside Johannesburg, September 20, 2008. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South Africa's ruling ANC (African National Congress) Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe addresses the media in Kempton Park, outside Johannesburg, September 20, 2008. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

On February 19, governing African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe addressed a party march for “unity, democracy and non-racialism” in Pretoria. There are press reports of eighty-seven thousand participants. Reportedly, Mantashe’s central message was, “We must defend the revolution and defend every attack on the ANC structures.” He went on to say, “We are a majority, we should be able to take decisions and enforce them.” 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 »

Jacob Zuma and South Africa’s Constitution

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

The South African government spent about $24 million on “security upgrades” to President Jacob Zuma’s private estate, Nkandla. Those “security upgrades” included a swimming pool, a chicken run, and a football pitch. In 2014, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela investigated the expenditure and found some of it improper, and directed the president to pay back some—not all—of the public money spent on the estate. President Zuma refused, and was supported by his cabinet minister and the governing African National Congress (ANC) majority in parliament. Read more »