John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Politics"

A Face of Nigerian Corruption

by John Campbell
Nigeria's former President Goodluck Jonathan and wife Patience Jonathan arrives at the polling ward for accreditation in Otuoke, Bayelsa State March 28, 2015.  (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's former President Goodluck Jonathan and wife Patience Jonathan arrives at the polling ward for accreditation in Otuoke, Bayelsa State March 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen U.S. dollar bank accounts that former Nigerian First Lady Patience Jonathan claims are hers. The total value of the accounts is worth $31.5 million. She has applied to the Federal High Court in Lagos to unfreeze the accounts. Many Nigerians, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, are asking how she accumulated $31.5 million in the first place. Read more »

After the Vote, It’s “Morning in South Africa”

by John Campbell and Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the official announcement of the municipal election results at the result center in Pretoria, South Africa, August 6, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the official announcement of the municipal election results at the result center in Pretoria, South Africa, August 6, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

This post was co-authored by John Campbell and Allen Grane, research associate for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Many friends of South Africa’s post-1994 “non-racial democracy” have seen developments within the ruling African National Congress (ANC), especially under Jacob Zuma, as threatening the open political system based on the rule of law. So long as voting was largely determined by racial identity, the 80 percent of South Africa’s population that is black seemed to ensure that the party would remain in power indefinitely. The White, Coloured, and Asian minorities supported the Democratic Alliance (DA), but together they are not large enough to constitute an alternative to the ANC, except on the provincial level. (The DA has long dominated predominately Coloured and White Western Cape.) The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which calls for an assault on White “privilege,” were largely confined to the townships. Read more »

South Africa’s Municipal Elections

by John Campbell
A man casts his ballot during South Africa's local government elections in KwaMashu, north of Durban, South Africa, August 3, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) A man casts his ballot during South Africa's local government elections in KwaMashu, north of Durban, South Africa, August 3, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

“It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings,” and at the time of this writing, between 80 and 90 percent of the ballots in South Africa’s 2016 municipal elections have been counted. Most provinces have tallied over 80 percent of the vote, with the exception of Gauteng where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located. Nevertheless, it is likely that current trends will hold. If so, about 53 to 54 percent of the vote will go to the African National congress (ANC), vice 62.15 percent in the 2014 national elections; between 27 and 28 percent to the Democratic Alliance (DA), vice 22.23 percent in 2014; between 7 and 8 percent to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), vice 6.35 percent in 2014; and, between 4 and 5 percent to the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), vice 2.4 percent in 2014. (The remainder is split among the myriad small parties.) Read more »

The Kimani Murders and the Future of Police Accountability in Kenya

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Kenyan police officers Silvia Wanjiku, Stephen Chebulet (covering their heads) suspected of killing human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client and their driver, cover their heads as they are escorted from the dock at Milimani Law courts in Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) Kenyan police officers Silvia Wanjiku, Stephen Chebulet (covering their heads) suspected of killing human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client and their driver, cover their heads as they are escorted from the dock at Milimani Law courts in Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs graduate from the University of Toronto, where she currently researches justice reform. You can follow her on twitter at @claireLwilmot. Read more »

Why Tensions Have Cooled between Ethiopia and Eritrea

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2013. (Reuters/Mike Segar) Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2013. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

Nathan Birhanu is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

The June 2016 border clash between Ethiopia and Eritrea reflected renewed tensions between the two countries that have been mutually hostile since their 1998 – 2000 war. Shortly after the clash, tensions escalated as Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn claimed further retaliation will be administered if “destabilizing efforts” continued, while Eritrea accused the Ethiopian administration of human rights abuses. Read more »

Corruption, Nigeria, and the United States

by John Campbell
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, from left, Sarah Chayes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari take part in a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Reuters/Frank Augstein/Pool) World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, from left, Sarah Chayes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari take part in a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Reuters/Frank Augstein/Pool)

Nigeria’s notorious corruption was a centerpiece of the 2014-2015 presidential campaign of Muhammadu Buhari, and fighting it has been a centerpiece of his administration. Abuja is an important Washington partner, and a successful Nigerian campaign against corruption is in the American interest. However, Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow Matthew Page argues that the United States is not doing nearly enough in a hard-hitting, thought-provoking brief on corruption, “Improving U.S. Anticorruption Policy in Nigeria.” Read more »

Ethiopia and Eritrea Clash: Who Is to Blame and What Is to Be Gained?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Eritreans walk past a tank abandoned during the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, in Shambuko Town, December 23, 2005. (Courtesy/Ed Harris) Eritreans walk past a tank abandoned during the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, in Shambuko Town, December 23, 2005. (Courtesy/Ed Harris)

This piece has been co-authored by John Campbell and Nathan Birhanu. Nathan is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development. Read more »

Nigeria Devalues its Currency

by John Campbell
A trader changes dollars with naira at a currency exchange store in Lagos, February 12, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico) A trader changes dollars with naira at a currency exchange store in Lagos, February 12, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico)

In the face of low international oil and gas prices, the domestic and international business community, academics, and journalists have all urged President Muhammadu Buhari to devalue the national currency, the naira. Buhari steadfastly refused. Based on his 1983-85 experience as head of state, also a period characterized by falling oil prices, he seems to believe that in an economy as dependent on imports as Nigeria, devaluing the naira would increase the cost of living for the poor, the majority of Nigeria’s citizens. Buhari famously observed that “Nigeria even imports toothpicks.” Read more »

Nigeria Sacking Senior Military Officers

by John Campbell
Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Reuters/Joe Penney) Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

A Nigerian army spokesman said on June 10 that “quite a number” of senior military officers have been fired, and some have been turned over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation of charges of corruption. The spokesman, Colonel Sani Kukesheka Usman, is quoted in the media as saying, “. . . not too long ago some officers were investigated for being partisan during the 2015 General Elections. Similarly, the investigation by the presidential committee investigating defense contracts revealed a lot. Some officers have already been arraigned in court by the EFCC.” He went on to say: “The military must remain apolitical and professional at all times.” Read more »

Remarks on Morning in South Africa

by John Campbell
Wild flowers bloom on Cape Town's Table Mountain heralding the coming southern hemisphere spring, August 19, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Wild flowers bloom on Cape Town's Table Mountain heralding the coming southern hemisphere spring, August 19, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The following text is the entirety of John Campbell’s speech delivered as part of the Department of State’s Ralph J Bunche Library Series, on June 8, 2016. 

From a certain perspective, South Africa is a mess. Many South Africans are disappointed by the way the country has seemingly squandered its promise as the ‘Rainbow Nation.’ Under the Jacob Zuma presidential administration, the country is treading water with respect to poverty and addressing the lasting consequences of apartheid. Corruption is rife. You can read all about it in the Mail and Guardian or the Daily Maverick. Read more »