John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Democratic Alliance"

Rand Falls as Finance Minister Gordhan is Ordered Home

by John Campbell
South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan (L) walks with his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas as they walk from their offices to a court hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, March 28,2017. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

On March 27, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas were on an investor road show to the United Kingdom and the United States when they were abruptly ordered to return to South Africa by President Jacob Zuma. There was media speculation that Zuma was about to reshuffle his cabinet, removing from office the well-regarded finance minister and his deputy. (There is much speculation that former ESKOM CEO Brian Molefe will replace Gordhan.)The Rand (ZAR), South Africa’s currency, swooned, losing 3 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. Foreign investor confidence in South Africa, which had been on the upswing, fell. Read more »

Helen Zille’s Colonialism Controversy

by John Campbell
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille arrives for President Jacob Zuma's Sate of the Nation address at the opening session of Parliament in Cape Town, February 12, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Helen Zille is the premier of the Western Cape and a former leader of South Africa’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA). A former journalist and anti-apartheid activist of German descent, she is famous for being one of those who exposed the murder of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko at the hands of the apartheid security services. Zille has actively sought the transformation of the DA into an opposition party that could win significant support from South Africa’s majority black population. In addition, she was one of those who engineered the selection of Mmusi Maimane, a black politician from Johannesburg, as party leader. She is well known for her outspoken criticism of the dominant African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

South Africa, Refugees, and Populism

by John Campbell
Foreign men from Malawi queue to board buses from a camp for those affected by anti-immigrant violence in Chatsworth north of Durban, April 18, 2015. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Rosettenville, a suburb of Johannesburg, was the site of the February 11-12 burning of buildings alleged to have been used by “prostitutes and drug dealers.” These “prostitutes and drug dealers” have been  popularly identified as “Nigerians.” In the aftermath of the fires, the mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, bitterly criticized the South African government for failing to secure South Africa’s borders. (Mashaba is a prominent leader of the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition to the African National Congress government of Jacob Zuma.) Read more »

Parliamentary Brawls Threaten South African Governance

by John Campbell
Security officials remove members of the Economic Freedom Fighters during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA) to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town, South Africa, February 9, 2017. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

Since 1994, South Africa’s constitutional institutions have strengthened, as has the independence of the judiciary, which now regularly rules against an increasingly discredited Zuma administration. The political parties are becoming more competitive, even as the country regularly holds credible elections. Corruption, especially in the inner circle of President Jacob Zuma and among his allies in the African National Congress (ANC), has probably increased, but it is challenged by the country’s free press and vociferous civil society. However, the parliamentary escapades of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) threatens the strength of South Africa’s parliament, one of the country’s most important institutions. Read more »

Jacob Zuma and the State of the South African Nation

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma before speaking to members of the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa, December 4, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

On February 9, President Jacob Zuma will deliver South Africa’s annual State of the Nation speech in parliament. The substance of the speech is likely to be a mixture of policy stability with calls for “radical” transformation of ownership of the economy. Few expect that the speech will really break new ground or that it will presage “radical” change. Rather, his remarks will be shaped by concern for his legacy and the leadership succession fight within the governing African National Congress (ANC). 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 »

South Africa’s Education Woes

by John Campbell
DATE IMPORTED:June 24, 2012Children write notes from a makeshift black board at a school in Mwezeni village in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province in this picture taken June 5, 2012. (Reuters/Ryan Gray)

On January 7, The Economist published a short analysis of the poor state of education for most – not all – South Africans. On various league tables, South Africans are near the bottom in educational achievement. However, there is a huge gap between the educational opportunities for white South Africans and everybody else. The Economist notes that of two-hundred black students starting school only one will do well enough to study engineering. The equivalent figure among white students is ten. Read more »

Outlook for South Africa’s Governing Party

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma greets supporters at a rally to commemorate the 105th birthday of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Soweto, South Africa, January 8, 2017. (Reuters/James Oatway)

The African National Congress (ANC) celebrated the 105th anniversary of its founding on January 8 in Johannesburg. (The ANC is one of the older of the democratic world’s governing parties.) Last year was a bad year for the party. National president and ANC leader Jacob Zuma was tarred by credible accusations of personal corruption and that of close associates. He met judicial and political reversals. The economy grew very slowly. In a party that values unity, factionalism increased, centered mostly on Zuma himself. In the August local government elections, the ANC faced its most severe reversal since it came to power in 1994. Accordingly, at the anniversary celebrations the emphasis was on party unity and the acknowledgement (even by Zuma himself) that the party had made mistakes that threatened to isolate it from its core constituencies. 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 ANC’s Next Party Leader and the Next South African Chief of State

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma (2nd L) stands behind a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 17, 2014. (Reuters/Schalk van Zuydam)

Under South Africa’s system of proportional representation, the public does not vote directly for the president. Rather it is parliament that votes for the president. Because of the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) huge parliamentary majority, since the end of apartheid, parliament has always selected its party leader as head of state. The ANC will choose its next party leader no later than December 2017. (Incumbent party leader Jacob Zuma has said that he will not run for a third term, as is party tradition.) South Africa’s next national elections will take place in 2019. In theory, Zuma could remain as president of South Africa after he leaves office as party leader. However, precedent is that the president resigns his office when he is no longer party leader. Read more »