John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Jacob Zuma"

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) 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) 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 »

A ‘White’ Homeland in South Africa

by John Campbell
People attend an Afrikaans Sunday service in a makeshift tent church at a squatter camp for poor white South Africans at Coronation Park in Krugersdorp, March 7, 2010. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly) People attend an Afrikaans Sunday service in a makeshift tent church at a squatter camp for poor white South Africans at Coronation Park in Krugersdorp, March 7, 2010. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly)

South Africa is a notoriously divided nation. There are eleven legal languages and four races with degrees of legal recognition (Indian/Asian, Black, Coloured, and White). Though Black Africans are about 80 percent of the population, they are divided into numerous ethnic groups, of which the Zulus are the largest, about a quarter of the population. South Africans sometimes say that there is no “majority” or “minority” in the country, with an overall, encompassing national identity as Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Rainbow Nation. Coloured’s are mostly Afrikaans speaking and Dutch Reformed in religion, but the ‘Cape Coloured’s” are a Muslim minority. Among Whites, the division is between Afrikaans speakers and English speakers, with the former the majority. White Afrikaners sometimes identify themselves as the “white tribe.” The South African constitution recognizes the freedom of legal and cultural self-determination, including the possibility of establishing an ‘ethnic homeland.” 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) 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 »

S&P Leaves South Africa’s Bond Rating Unchanged

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) 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)

Standard & Poor (S&P), the international credit rating agency, left its assessment of South Africa’s foreign-currency debt unchanged. It remains at the same level as Italy’s and India’s. However, it did lower South Africa’s local-currency rating, which remains above “junk.” On the S&P news, the South African currency, the Rand, rose 1.6 percent against the U.S. dollar, and yields of rand-denominated government bonds fell nine basis points to 9.02 percent. Read more »

South Africa’s Wounded President Zuma Survives

by John Campbell
Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma listen as he speaks at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 18, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma listen as he speaks at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 18, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Over the weekend of November 27, Jacob Zuma faced his greatest political challenge to date, a vote of ‘no-confidence’ from within his own party, the African National Congress (ANC). He had previously survived three no-confidence votes in parliament, where the party rallied around him. This time, however, the challenge, orchestrated by four ministers, was within the National Executive Committee (NEC), the highest governance body within the ANC. Read more »

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’s Nine Lives

by John Campbell
Floyd Shivambu, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacts ahead of the no-confidence vote, which the South African President Jacob Zuma survived, over what the opposition called his "reckless leadership," after the anti-graft watchdog called for an inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government, at the National Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) Floyd Shivambu, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacts ahead of the no-confidence vote, which the South African President Jacob Zuma survived, over what the opposition called his "reckless leadership," after the anti-graft watchdog called for an inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government, at the National Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

The publication on November 2 of the South Africa Public Protector’s report on “state capture” by the president and his cronies, the Gupta family, would seem to indicate Jacob Zuma’s direct involvement in corruption. The publication has created a media stir, with the quality Western media devoting more extensive coverage to it than is usual. Yet, the report does not contain a “smoking gun,” but rather calls for an extensive (and well-financed) formal investigation. Read more »

South Africa’s President Zuma as Mafioso

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma laughs ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's medium term budget speech in Cape Town, South Africa, October 26, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) South African President Jacob Zuma laughs ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's medium term budget speech in Cape Town, South Africa, October 26, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

Critics worldwide of South African President Jacob Zuma characterize his administration as “Mafiosi” in style. South African society is characterized by gross inequality, generally with blacks on the bottom and whites on top. Ostensibly, the president’s goal is the “transformation” of this characterization of society, even if that means an assault on constitutional institutions and the rule of law. However, in cahoots with personal allies, notably the Gupta family, instead of “transformation” he is seeking to remain in power and preserve his wealth. Thus far, he has been successfully countered by the strength of South Africa’s institutions, a mobilized civil society, and the democratic faction within the African National Congress (ANC). Calls for his early recall are mounting within the ANC. A trenchant exposition of this “Mafioso” perspective is provided by Richard Poplak, in the Daily Maverick. Read more »

South Africa’s Possible Withdraw from the International Criminal Court

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma 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) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma 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)

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma administration’s notice to the United Nations of its intention to withdraw from the International criminal Court (ICC) has been received with consternation by civil society organizations such as Amnesty International. However, it is unclear, even unlikely, that the Zuma administration can take such a step without a parliamentary vote. It is also unclear whether parliament would go along. Read more »

Exit of South Africa’s Finance Minister? Not So Fast

by John Campbell
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan reacts during a media briefing in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo) Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan reacts during a media briefing in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo)

Pravin Gordhan faces charges of fraud and has been summoned to the Pretoria Regional Court on November 2. The charges appear to be spurious. They concern Gordhan’s approval of the early retirement of a government employee and his subsequent re-employment under contract. The claim is that the amount of money involved is just over ZAR 1.1 million (approximately $76,000). Early retirement followed by re-engagement on contract is commonplace in many governments, including that of South Africa. Read more »