John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Elections"

The Likelihood of Instability in Zimbabwe

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

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.

Last spring, the Council on Foreign Relations published a Contingency Planning Memorandum (CPM) by Ambassador George F. Ward that described the potential for political instability and violence in Zimbabwe. Amb. Ward detailed three paths to instability in Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe’s death before an appointed successor is installed; a serious challenge to Mugabe’s control driven by increased factionalism; and an economic crisis triggering demand for political change. He also offered three corresponding “warning indicators”: any sign that Mugabe’s health is in decline; indication of increased dissent or infighting within the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); and public unrest. Read more »

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 »

One More Sign that South Africa’s Zuma is in Trouble with his Party

by John Campbell
South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma stand during the playing of the national anthem at the opening of Parliament in Cape Town, February 11, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma stand during the playing of the national anthem at the opening of Parliament in Cape Town, February 11, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

In the aftermath of the Constitutional Court’s unanimous ruling that President Zuma and the National Assembly failed to uphold the Constitution over Nkandla, there are signs that the grassroots of the governing African National Congress (ANC) is losing patience. (Nkandla is Zuma’s private estate on which the public protector ruled public money was improperly spent; the presidency and the National Assembly stonewalled the public protector, actions which the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously violated the Constitution.) The ANC used its huge parliamentary majority to block an April 5 effort to impeach Zuma, but prominent ANC leaders are saying that Zuma must go. 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 »

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 »

South Africa’s Three Capitals

by John Campbell
A general view of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, November 24, 2009. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A general view of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, November 24, 2009. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Resulting from negotiations between the British Empire and the defeated Boer republics that ended the second Anglo-Boer war and created the Union of South Africa were three capitals. Parliament meets in Cape Town, the former capital of the British Cape Province. The administration was based in Pretoria, the capital of the Boer republic of Transvaal, and the judiciary was based in Bloemfontein, the capital of the other Boer republic–the Orange Free State. Read more »

AU Vote to Leave the International Criminal Court of Little Consequence

by John Campbell
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

Led by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the African Union (AU) voted by a huge margin in favor of a proposal for withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the aftermath of the vote, President Jacob Zuma reiterated his threat that South Africa would withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction: “Our strongly held view is that it is now impossible, under the circumstances, for South Africa to continue its participation…” The AU chairman, Chadian President Idriss Deby, repeated the regular criticism that the ICC is biased against Africa: “Elsewhere in the world, many things happen, many flagrant violations of human rights, but nobody cares.” Read more »

Nigeria’s Pro-Biafra Agitation: A Mix of Crisis and Opportunity

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A man carries the Biafran flag during a parade in Ekwe village, near Enugu in southeastern Nigeria, May 27, 2008. (Reuters/George Esiri) A man carries the Biafran flag during a parade in Ekwe village, near Enugu in southeastern Nigeria, May 27, 2008. (Reuters/George Esiri)

This is a guest post by Carl Unegbu. Carl is a Nigerian-born American lawyer and journalist. He lives in New York City.

Nigeria’s old Biafra problem has reared its head again and with it, the specter of disintegration. For a thirty-month period between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria was embroiled in a bloody civil war as its eastern region unsuccessfully tried to secede from the country under the banner of the Republic of Biafra. The latest episode in the Biafra crisis revolves around the arrest on October 19, of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of a secession movement called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Kanu is presently facing trial for sedition and treason. Since his arrest, protesters demanding both his release and an independent Biafra have repeatedly clashed violently with security forces with resulting deaths. On the international front, the European Union’s foreign policy chief recently weighed in on the matter with a policy statement and the controversy is on its way to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Read more »