John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Jacob Zuma"

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 »

South African Icon Disillusioned with Ruling Party Leadership

by John Campbell
A copy of a combo picture showing Rivonia trialists with their names written by hand is seen on the wall in Maybuye Center in Cape Town, March 10, 2005. From L to R on the top row are Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Gowan Mbeki and Raymond Mhlaba and on the bottom row are Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada, and Dennis Goldberg. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti) A copy of a combo picture showing Rivonia trialists with their names written by hand is seen on the wall in Maybuye Center in Cape Town, March 10, 2005. From L to R on the top row are Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Gowan Mbeki and Raymond Mhlaba and on the bottom row are Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada, and Dennis Goldberg. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)

On January 24, in London, UK Prime Minister David Cameron honored Nelson Mandela’s three surviving co-defendants at the 1964 Rivonia trial. They were Denis Goldberg, Ahmad Kathrada, and Andrew Mlangeni. Cameron also honored their suriviving defense attorneys, Lord Joel Joffe and George Bizos, who succeeded in avoiding the death penalty for their clients, though not twenty-six years of imprisonment. Read more »

Comedy and Democracy in South Africa

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma laughs as he delivers his State of the Nation Address after the formal opening of Parliament in Cape Town, February 14, 2013. (Reuters//Rodger Bosch/Pool) South African President Jacob Zuma laughs as he delivers his State of the Nation Address after the formal opening of Parliament in Cape Town, February 14, 2013. (Reuters//Rodger Bosch/Pool)

For most Americans, their first exposure to South African comedy has been Trevor Noah, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” Noah’s January 20, riff on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump is an example of South African standup comedy at its best, with the added dimension of an African “seeing us as others see us.” One example is his comment that America is such a great place because “…presidents might have term limits but Sarah Palin is forever.” Read more »

Racist Facebook Comments Ignite South African Anger

by John Campbell
People visit the beach on New Year's Day in Durban, January 1, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) People visit the beach on New Year's Day in Durban, January 1, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Penny Sparrow, age sixty-nine, a white real estate agent in Durban and a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), in a Facebook post characterized black beach goers over New Year’s as “monkeys.” (For many years, young black South Africans living inland have gathered on Durban’s beaches to celebrate New Year’s.) At about the same time, a bank economist tweeted about “majority (black) entitlement” as a barrier to economic growth. Others, evidently also white, on-line have expressed admiration for certain apartheid and pre-apartheid era political figures, including P.W. Botha and Cecil Rhodes. Black social media response has been fierce, including calls to take action “against all white people to end racism.” Read more »

South Africa, a King, and the Rule of Law

by John Campbell
AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo speaks to journalists after handing over a memorandum to government officials in Pretoria, July 10, 2013.  (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo speaks to journalists after handing over a memorandum to government officials in Pretoria, July 10, 2013. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

The alarums and excursions over South Africa’s economy and economic policy do not stop. December saw the discreditable episode of President Jacob Zuma’s hiring and firing multiple ministers of finance in only a few days and a drop in the country’s estimated economic growth rate to perhaps 1.2 percent. The new year kicked off with an apparent standoff with the United States over trade that if unresolved would end South Africa’s participation in the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). But, a BBC news item that appeared New Year’s Eve highlights how South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law makes it well-prepared to weather the multiple crises of the moment. Read more »

What to Watch: Africa 2016

by John Campbell and Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney) Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

While western governments are currently transfixed on events in Iraq and Syria, it is important that they do not forget Africa. Boko Haram has become the world’s deadliest terrorist organization and Libya is increasingly becoming a base of operations for the Islamic State. Below, CFR’s Africa program outlines six African issues to watch in 2016. While they could certainly affect the lives of millions of Africans, these issues could also have serious implications for international politics. Read more »

Jacob Zuma’s Hold on Power

by John Campbell
Protesters carry placards as they take part in a demonstration against President Jacob Zuma in Cape town, South Africa, December 16, 2015. ()Reuters/Mark Wessels) Protesters carry placards as they take part in a demonstration against President Jacob Zuma in Cape town, South Africa, December 16, 2015. ()Reuters/Mark Wessels)

Jacob Zuma’s political power is based on his support by the African National Congress’s political apparatus – often called Luthuli House, after the party’s headquarters building in Johannesburg. With support of the party machinery, he has weathered numerous political and personal setbacks ranging from a rape trial to accusations of corruption. However, if the party turns against him, he will not long survive as party leader or chief of state. In 2008, Thabo Mbeki was removed from both positions by a party revolt. The same is possible for Zuma. Read more »

The South African Roller Coaster

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma speaks during his visit to the Lodewyk P. Spies Old Age Home in Eersterust, Pretoria, December 15, 2015. (ReutersS/Siphiwe Sibeko) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma speaks during his visit to the Lodewyk P. Spies Old Age Home in Eersterust, Pretoria, December 15, 2015. (ReutersS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

On December 10, President Jacob Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene, the well regarded finance minister, and replaced him with the unknown and inexperienced David van Rooven. Though Zuma is not required by the South African constitution to consult with anybody on cabinet appointments, the fact that he did not inform his cabinet or provide public explanation for his removal of Nene and appointment of van Rooven may have been the last straw. Read more »

Ruling Party Wants South Africa to Leave the International Criminal Court

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma answers questions in parliament in Cape Town, August 6, 2015. Reuters/Mike Hutchings. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma answers questions in parliament in Cape Town, August 6, 2015. Reuters/Mike Hutchings.

The African National Congress (ANC) wants South Africa to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Obed Bapela, a deputy minister in the presidency, said that the ICC “has lost its way.” According to the media, the Minister for International Relations (foreign minister) Maite Nkoana-Mashabane indicated that the process would be orderly and not hasty. South Africa will place the issue of its withdrawal on the agenda for November’s Assembly of States Parties meeting attended by all ICC members and it would table it at the January African Union (AU) summit, she said. The ANC will bring the issue to parliament for debate. Read more »

South Africa’s Ruling ANC Party Losing Numbers

by John Campbell
President of South Africa Jacob Zuma addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 28, 2015. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz) President of South Africa Jacob Zuma addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 28, 2015. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

South African President and African National Congress (ANC) party leader Jacob Zuma is complaining that the ruling ANC is losing members. At a party policy forum in early October he announced that party membership had fallen to 769,000 from some 1.2 million three years previously. Read more »