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 Mamphela Ramphele Leaves Politics

by John Campbell
Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele launches her new political party "Agang" to challenge South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, June 22, 2013. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele launches her new political party "Agang" to challenge South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, June 22, 2013. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Mamphela Ramphele, the founder of the political party AgangSA (Agang is the northern Sotho word for ‘build’) in 2013, announced on July 8 that she is leaving politics. Read more »

Nigeria: What Time Is It?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
People crowd on a road near Balogun market to shop, a day before Christmas in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, December 24, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) People crowd on a road near Balogun market to shop, a day before Christmas in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, December 24, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers.

Luxury watch sales are rising in Africa. Ulysse Nardin opened a shop in Abuja, as Nigeria is seen as “the force today” in that market. Yet time may be moving faster than horological devices can measure. Read more »

Negotiating Democracy in Malawi

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Malawi's President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013. (Ray Stubblebine/Courtesy Reuters) Malawi's President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013. (Ray Stubblebine/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Kate Collins, Associate Director, Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, who lived and worked in Malawi in 2012-2013. 

Malawi is currently witnessing a political drama that will prompt Americans to recall the days of hanging chads in Bush vs. Gore. On May 20, Malawi held tripartite presidential, parliamentary, and municipal elections. The vote was chaotic, accompanied by spasms of violence unusual for this quiet southern African country. Some urban polling centers were torched by angry crowds, and the army was dispatched to keep order. The elections were also marred by logistical hurdles that are part and parcel of working in Malawi. Even urban polling stations with good access to infrastructure saw bungled ballot delivery, rescheduled polling, and officials counting votes by hand at night in the dark. Read more »

South Africa’s Political Playground

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
African National Congress  election posters featuring images of South Africa's president Jacob Zuma are displayed on a wall as a school boy climbs over it in Embo, May 6, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters) African National Congress election posters featuring images of South Africa's president Jacob Zuma are displayed on a wall as a school boy climbs over it in Embo, May 6, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Derek Charles Catsam, associate professor of History and the Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan fellow in the Humanities at the University of Texas of the Perman Basin. Derek was senior editor for the Foreign Policy Association’s Africa blog from 2007 to 2014. Read more »

South Africa: What Does “Service Delivery” Really Mean?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Protesters take part in a service delivery protest in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, February 5, 2014. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters take part in a service delivery protest in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, February 5, 2014. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

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 version of this post appeared on the World Policy Blog. Read more »

The 2014 South African Election: Another ANC Landslide

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
President Jacob Zuma dances at a victory rally of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Johannesburg May 10, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) President Jacob Zuma dances at a victory rally of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Johannesburg May 10, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Derek Charles Catsam, associate professor of History and the Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan fellow in the Humanities at the University of Texas of the Perman Basin. Derek was senior editor for the Foreign Policy Association’s Africa blog from 2007 to 2014. Read more »

Nigerian Fecklessness Over the Kidnapped School Girls

by John Campbell
A man holds a placard as youths protest the release of abducted school girls in the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos, May 10, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A man holds a placard as youths protest the release of abducted school girls in the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos, May 10, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Examples of the political ineptitude of Goodluck Jonathan’s administration over the kidnapping of the Chibok school girls keep piling up. The latest is a Leadership report of the police forcefully dispersing a peaceful demonstration on Sunday, May 11 in Abuja. The demonstration was taking place at Unity Fountain Park, in the Maitama district, where “#BringBackOurGirls” protests have taken place for the past week. According to Leadership, the officer in charge claimed he had “orders from above” to stop the protest. Read more »

South Africa Moving Away From A One-Party State

by John Campbell
Voters mark their ballots in Johannesburg's Alexandra township, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Voters mark their ballots in Johannesburg's Alexandra township, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

While much international attention has been focused on the Boko Haram kidnapping of up to three hundred schoolgirls in northern Nigeria, an episode that re-enforces an Africa negative narrative, South Africa has, yet again, conducted free, fair, and credible national elections. With 99 percent of the votes counted as I write, the governing African National Congress (ANC) has won 62 percent of the vote, the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has won 22 percent, while a new, left-wing party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) won 6 percent. The rest of the votes were shared by numerous small parties. Turnout was a healthy 73 percent. The ANC electoral victory guarantees that President Jacob Zuma will remain in office. Read more »

Eyewitness to Democracy: South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Winnie Madikizela Mandela casts her ballot in Johannesburg's Soweto township, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Winnie Madikizela Mandela casts her ballot in Johannesburg's Soweto township, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

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 version of this post appeared on the World Policy Blog. Read more »

Times Are A ‘Changin’ in South Africa, But Perhaps Not Yet

by John Campbell
Supporters of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Party (EFF) cheer during their party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. (Skyler Reid/Courtesy Reuters) Supporters of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Party (EFF) cheer during their party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. (Skyler Reid/Courtesy Reuters)

South Africa goes to the polls on May 7. The South African media has been describing the elections as likely to be “the closest since the coming of democracy in 1994.” Liberation icon Nelson Mandela is dead; the ruling African National congress (ANC) is associated with corruption, poor service delivery in the townships, and a cozy relationship between its leaders and big business. President Jacob Zuma is dogged with scandal. Liberation icons such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former ANC minister Ronnie Kasrils have abandoned the party. These are also the first national elections in which the “Born Frees”–those born after 1994–can vote. The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is energized, and for the first time there is left-wing alternative, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). All this makes for a crowded playing field. Read more »