John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Jacob Zuma"

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 »

Africa’s Presidential Phone Calls

by John Campbell
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) arrives with Steve Mnuchin to swear him in as Treasury Secretary in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 13, 2017. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Africa featured not at all in the U.S. presidential campaign, and the Trump administration has been silent about the continent since the inauguration. Hence, for American friends of Africa it was encouraging that President Trump spoke with the presidents of Africa’s two largest economies on February 13. However, there has been no White House explanation as to why the president chose the chiefs of state of those two particular countries: arguably, the United States has a closer security relationship with Kenya. As of February 14, the White House has released few details about the conversations, while there have been only brief reports from Nigerian and South African sources. This is not unusual: details of communications among heads of state are rarely made public. 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 »

South Africa’s ANC Horserace

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L), who is also the president of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), gestures next to his Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, January 9, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Everybody loves a horserace among political personalities. South Africa is no different. The December 2017 African National Congress (ANC) leadership contest is commonly seen as a race between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the a reformer with an urban constituency, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President Zuma’s ex-wife and potential protector of his patronage networks. A possible dark horse is Zweli Mkhize, ANC party treasurer, who has been identified as a likely compromise candidate. There are also suggestions of compromise arrangements, such as Ramaphosa accepting Dlamini-Zuma as deputy president of the party or vice versa. 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 »

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)

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)

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 »