John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Elections"

Zimbabwe and Nigeria: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Most Corrupt of Them All?

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, February 23, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, February 23, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Robert Mugabe, the poster boy for bad governance in Africa, said last month that Zimbabweans were behaving “like Nigerians” with respect to bribes and corruption. This, he implied, is not a good thing. Read more »

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma Stonewalls on Corruption Charges

by John Campbell
A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African president Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla January 11, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters) A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African president Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla January 11, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters)

South Africa’s Public Protector stated in a recent report that taxpayer money funded improvements to Nkandla, President Jacob Zuma’s private estate. The public protector found this “unconscionable, excessive, and caused a misappropriation of public funds.” President Zuma made his first public comment on March 31, in remarks carried by a TV station. He said, “I never did anything wrong.” In effect, he is blaming his subordinates within the governing African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

South African President Jacob Zuma’s “Let Them Eat Cake” Moment?

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

There is an apocryphal story that in France, King Louis XVI’s queen Marie Antoinette was once told, “Madame, the people have no bread.” To which she replied, “then let them eat cake.” The reality behind the story was of a self-centered court widely perceived as isolated from the French people. The French Revolution followed shortly after. Read more »

The Upcoming Elections South Africa and the Left

by John Campbell
Election officials assist Khulasande Matabese, eighteen, as he registers to cast his ballot in elections scheduled for May 7 in Cape Town's Langa township, February 8, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Election officials assist Khulasande Matabese, eighteen, as he registers to cast his ballot in elections scheduled for May 7 in Cape Town's Langa township, February 8, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Stephen Grootes, a political analyst writing in the Daily Maverick, observes that the “chattering classes” in South Africa seem to be fascinated by Julius Malema and his new, left-wing political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Will the party get up to 10 percent of the vote, presumably mostly at the expense of the ruling African National Congress (ANC)? Grootes doubts it, but at present he thinks that it will get more than the 1 percent that he predicted last year. Read more »

South Africa’s Upcoming Elections

by John Campbell
ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma puts on his reading glasses during the opening of a leadership conference in Polokwane, December 16,2007. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma puts on his reading glasses during the opening of a leadership conference in Polokwane, December 16,2007. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

Election day will be May 7, South Africa’s first after the death of Nelson Mandela. Conventional wisdom is that they will be the most competitive elections in the country’s post-apartheid history.

Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) at present holds about two thirds (66 percent) of the seats in parliament and controls most of the provincial governments. Historically, most of South Africa’s blacks citizens, constituting about 80 percent of the population, have supported it. But, recurrent scandals, poor service deliveries in the townships, and issues with the leadership of president and party leader Jacob Zuma are eroding its once overwhelming support. Most commentators think that the ANC will loose seats in these elections. Read more »

Nigeria: Political Parties’ Limitations

by John Campbell
Nigeriaian president Goodluck Jonathan (R) shakes hands with Muhammad Tukur Modibbo, managing director of Aura Energy Ltd, as Vice President Namadi Sambo (L) applauds during the Presidential Power Reform Transactions signing ceremony in Abuja, April 22, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Nigeriaian president Goodluck Jonathan (R) shakes hands with Muhammad Tukur Modibbo, managing director of Aura Energy Ltd, as Vice President Namadi Sambo (L) applauds during the Presidential Power Reform Transactions signing ceremony in Abuja, April 22, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

An important venue for Nigerian politics since the 1999 restoration of civilian government, which followed a generation of military rule, has been the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). While there have always been numerous political parties, the PDP is the place where the competing and cooperating elites that dominate Nigeria have been most comfortable operating. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo liked to say that the PDP was the largest political party in Africa. After he left presidential office, he tried with limited success to shape or influence events from his position as chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees. Read more »

Nigeria: Election Season and the Multiple Conflict Arenas

by John Campbell
Lieutenant-General Azubike Ihejirika (L) presents a flag to the new chief of army staff, Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah, during a handing over ceremony at the Defence Ministry headquarters in Abuja, January 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Lieutenant-General Azubike Ihejirika (L) presents a flag to the new chief of army staff, Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah, during a handing over ceremony at the Defence Ministry headquarters in Abuja, January 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Because of an American pre-occupation with the threat of jihadist Islam in the Sahel, much U.S. attention is directed toward “Boko Haram” in northern Nigeria and whatever links it might have with other groups, such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. As I blogged on February 6, there has in recent weeks been a dramatic upsurge in violence related to Boko Haram. However, there are also other nodes of violence that friends of Nigeria, and Nigerians, should watch. Read more »

Boko Haram Carnage in Rural Nigeria

by John Campbell
Residents watch as two men walk amidst rubble after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik, west of Borno State capital Maiduguri, September 19, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Residents watch as two men walk amidst rubble after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik, west of Borno State capital Maiduguri, September 19, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Premium Times, which is based in Abuja, is reporting that Boko Haram has killed at least 250 people in Borno state (northeast Nigeria) over the past two weeks. This figure is exceptionally high. But, the carnage is not over, nor is it limited to Borno. Leadership reported on February 5 that an additional seventy-one people had been killed in Plateau, Kaduna, Yobe, and Katsina states. Read more »

Will Nigeria’s Strategy Toward Boko Haram Shift?

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (C) arrives for the service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the First National Bank Stadium, also known as Soccer City, in Johannesburg, December 10, 2013. (Kevin Coombs/Courtesy Reuters) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (C) arrives for the service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the First National Bank Stadium, also known as Soccer City, in Johannesburg, December 10, 2013. (Kevin Coombs/Courtesy Reuters)

After four years of military action against Boko Haram and Abuja’s declaration of a state of emergency in three states eight months ago, Boko Haram’s depredations continue. Just last week, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for killing nineteen in a Borno village. Read more »

Could Lagos Be a Model for the Developing World?

by John Campbell
People sit and trade under a bridge at the Orile-Iganmu district of Lagos, August 29, 2013. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) People sit and trade under a bridge at the Orile-Iganmu district of Lagos, August 29, 2013. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Seth D. Kaplan, writing in the opinion pages of the January 7 New York Times, observes that by 2015, half the world’s population living on less than $1.25 a day will reside in fragile states. These poor contribute disproportionately to political instability, even terrorism. Nigeria is a fragile state, and the “worst run of the world’s most populated countries.” Read more »