John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Democracy"

No Confidence Vote Postponed in South Africa

by John Campbell
President Jacob Zuma looks on as members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party raise objections during Zuma's question and answer session in Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, September 13, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Speaker of the South African National Assembly Baleka Mbete has postponed the date for a vote of no confidence in the government of Jacob Zuma from April 18 to early May. The delay was caused by the request to the Constitutional Court from the United Democratic Movement (UDM) that the vote be by secret ballot. The court has agreed to review the case, but has not yet made a decision. The speaker, who agreed to wait on the courts decision, is a political ally of President Jacob Zuma and is the national chairperson of his African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

South Africa Prepares for Zuma No Confidence Vote

by John Campbell
Protesters hold placards as they march in South AfricaÕs capital to protest against President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, South Africa, April 12 ,2017. (REUTERS/Marius Bosch)

The National Assembly will vote on April 18, on a motion of no confidence in the African National Congress’ (ANC) Zuma administration. The motion has been put forward by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and is supported by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The occasion of the vote is Zuma’s earlier cabinet reshuffle which is perceived by many as having opened the flood gates to cronyism and corruption. The ANC has 249 seats out of 400 in the National Assembly. The two largest opposition parties are the DA, with eighty-nine seats, and the EFF, with twenty-five. The seats of all the other opposition parties together number thirty-seven. The ANC party leadership seems to have rallied around Zuma, and it must be expected that the motion will fail. Read more »

South African Demonstrations Unlikely to Move the ANC and Zuma

by John Campbell
Demonstrators carry banners as they take part in a protest calling for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg, South Africa, April 7, 2017. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Over the Palm Sunday weekend, there were large demonstrations in South Africa’s urban centers against President Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC) in the aftermath of last week’s cabinet reshuffle. The largest demonstrations took place in Cape Town and Pretoria, where, according to the media, demonstrators numbered in the tens of thousands. Elsewhere, demonstrations were much smaller. The demonstrations received extensive media coverage internationally and in the United States, however, they will certainly have no impact on Zuma’s position or the ANC in the short term. For his part, Zuma accused the protestors of being racist. Read more »

Yet Again, No Mo Ibrahim Prize Awarded

by John Campbell
Mo Ibrahim Foundation Founder and Chair Mo Ibrahim (L) looks out into the audience as he and Equity Bank Group CEO James Mwangi participate in a panel discussion on investment during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington August 5, 2014. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

In February, the Ibrahim foundation announced that, yet again, it would not be awarding it’s famed Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Mo Ibrahim, a British-Sudanese telecom billionaire, established the award in 2006. It is probably the richest international prize in the world. It awards laureates $5 million over ten years, then $200,000 per year for life. In addition, laureates may apply for an additional $200,000 per year for their own philanthropy. The prize appears to have been designed to recognize and encourage African leadership of the highest quality and also to free them from post-presidential financial burdens. The selection committee, numbering seven, is of outstanding quality: it includes former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, former first lady of both Mozambique and South Africa Graca Machel, and former president of Bostwana (and laureate) Festus Mogae. Read more »

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Health

by John Campbell
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

The Nigerian media continues to be transfixed by the question of President Buhari’s health, with rumor and innuendo flying, including the “fake news” of his death. Buhari went to London on January 19, for ten days of rest and medical tests. However, he has since extended his stay twice, and at present there is no set date for his return. Read more »

Podcast: Africa and The New Administration

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama walks off stage as he finishes his news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. State Department in Washington, August 6, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Africa in Transition announces a new podcast series. For our inaugural effort the CFR Africa program’s own John Campbell and Allen Grane discuss the United States’ policy priorities in Africa and what the new Trump administration means for America’s relationship with its African partners. There is also a discussion of the focus of the CFR Africa program. Read more »

Muhammadu Buhari’s Questionable Health

by John Campbell
A man rides his tricycle with placards as he takes part in a rally to show support for Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, Febuary 6, 2017. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

On January 19, President Muhammadu Buhari departed Nigeria for London for ten days of vacation and medical tests. Since then, he has extended his stay twice, most recently on February 5. His spokesman did not say when he will return to Nigeria. Before he left, as required by law, President Buhari informed the National Assembly of his departure and that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would exercise presidential power during his absence. Read more »

Identity Politics in South Africa

by John Campbell
Students await the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town (UCT), April 9, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The African National Congress (ANC), which has governed South Africa since the 1994 transition to “non-racial democracy,” traditionally eschewed identity politics. Though its electoral support was overwhelmingly Black, the party recruited its leadership from all races, which included many Whites and Asians. Nelson Mandela’s emphasis on racial reconciliation was very much in the spirit of the ANC. He particularly emphasized that there was place for Whites in post-apartheid South Africa. Famously, he attended a rugby championship match, the subject of the film Invictus. (Rugby is a White, mostly Afrikaner sport). Read more »

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)

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)

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 »