John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Politics"

South Africa Prepares for Zuma No Confidence Vote

by John Campbell
Protesters hold placards as they march in South AfricaÕs capital to protest against President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, South Africa, April 12 ,2017. (REUTERS/Marius Bosch)

The National Assembly will vote on April 18, on a motion of no confidence in the African National Congress’ (ANC) Zuma administration. The motion has been put forward by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and is supported by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The occasion of the vote is Zuma’s earlier cabinet reshuffle which is perceived by many as having opened the flood gates to cronyism and corruption. The ANC has 249 seats out of 400 in the National Assembly. The two largest opposition parties are the DA, with eighty-nine seats, and the EFF, with twenty-five. The seats of all the other opposition parties together number thirty-seven. The ANC party leadership seems to have rallied around Zuma, and it must be expected that the motion will fail. Read more »

ANC Rallies behind South Africa’s Zuma

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma waits to address a rally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa April 16, 2016. (REUTERS/Mike Hutchings)

The African National Congress’s (ANC) National Working Committee (NWC) decision to back South African President Jacob Zuma in the face of his widely unpopular cabinet reshuffle makes it unlikely that there will be sufficient ANC defections for a no-confidence measure to pass the National Assembly. It remains to be seen how the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will respond to the NWC decision. At present, it appears that any genuine unity within the ANC over a future sense of direction is absent. Read more »

Rand Falls as Finance Minister Gordhan is Ordered Home

by John Campbell
South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan (L) walks with his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas as they walk from their offices to a court hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, March 28,2017. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

On March 27, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas were on an investor road show to the United Kingdom and the United States when they were abruptly ordered to return to South Africa by President Jacob Zuma. There was media speculation that Zuma was about to reshuffle his cabinet, removing from office the well-regarded finance minister and his deputy. (There is much speculation that former ESKOM CEO Brian Molefe will replace Gordhan.)The Rand (ZAR), South Africa’s currency, swooned, losing 3 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. Foreign investor confidence in South Africa, which had been on the upswing, fell. Read more »

U.S. Shoots Itself in the Foot over Visas for Africans

by John Campbell
Abdul Giwa holds a copy of his passport during an interview with Reuters on the recent pronouncements of the Kaduna State government on the activity of the Shi'ite group in Kaduna, Nigeria, November 2, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Each year the University of Southern California hosts the African Global Economic and Development Summit. It is intended to bring together business, government, and others interested in U.S.-African trade and investment. This year, according to the Voice of America (VOA) there were no African participants. All Africans that had been invited or applied to attend were denied U.S. visas, including speakers and African government officials. This included citizens of U.S. partners such as Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa. Nigeria and South Africa have the continent’s largest economies and both are on a democratic trajectory. In addition, Ethiopia is an important U.S. strategic partner in the war on terror, while Ghana has notable growing economic and cultural ties with the United States. Read more »

Helen Zille’s Colonialism Controversy

by John Campbell
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille arrives for President Jacob Zuma's Sate of the Nation address at the opening session of Parliament in Cape Town, February 12, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Helen Zille is the premier of the Western Cape and a former leader of South Africa’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA). A former journalist and anti-apartheid activist of German descent, she is famous for being one of those who exposed the murder of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko at the hands of the apartheid security services. Zille has actively sought the transformation of the DA into an opposition party that could win significant support from South Africa’s majority black population. In addition, she was one of those who engineered the selection of Mmusi Maimane, a black politician from Johannesburg, as party leader. She is well known for her outspoken criticism of the dominant African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

Health Scare in Nigeria: President Muhammadu Buhari

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari returns from a medical trip in London at the Nigeria Airforce Base in Kaduna, Nigeria, March 10, 2017. (Reuters/Stringer)

In this episode of the Africa in Transition Podcast series John Campbell and Allen Grane discuss Muhammadu Buhari’s recent extended vacation to the United Kingdom. The two discuss why Buhari was away for so long, how Vice President Yemi Osinbajo did in his stead, and possible future implications. Read more »

South Africa and New Zealand Reciprocally Eliminate Visa Exemption

by John Campbell
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. Reuters/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

In October 2016, the New Zealand government withdrew the visa waiver arrangements for South African passport holders. It said the decision resulted from the number of South African visitors who used the visa waiver to visit family and friends in Zealand, rather than traveling to New Zealand for business or tourism. It also said that some South African visitors were overstaying the three month visa waiver limit or did not return to South Africa. The New Zealand government also cited the number of visitors who presented counterfeit South African passports and were denied entry by the New Zealand authorities. Read more »

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka “Disengages” from the United States

by John Campbell
Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka looks on as he sits before his interview with Reuters in Pretoria, February 1, 2012. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Wole Soyinka, the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, says he has “torn up” his green card and left the United States to return to Nigeria. Soyinka’s act is in protest against the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. During the campaign, Soyinka had said that he would leave the United States if Trump were elected. As reported in the British media, Soyinka said “I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the card and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been.” (Holders of a green card are alien permanent residents of the United States with most of the privileges of U.S. citizenship, including the ability to freely travel abroad.) Read more »

Nigerian Military Massacres Civilians – Again

by John Campbell
Policemen stand guard as supporters of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu take in a rally, as he is expected to appear at a magistrate court in Abuja, Nigeria, December 1, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Amnesty International has published a report claiming that the Nigerian military killed some 150 pro-Biafra demonstrators between August 2015 and August 2016. Amnesty analyzed 87 videos, 122 photographs, and took the testimony of 146 witnesses. It concludes that “the military fired live ammunition with little or no warning” into crowds of demonstrators. Amnesty also has “evidence of mass extrajudicial executions by security forces” of demonstrators calling for an independent Igbo state. Despite official military denials, the Amnesty report, like  other reports of Nigerian military abuse, is credible. Read more »

Misaligned Incentives Handcuff the ICC

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2011. (Reuters/Jerry Lampen)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn. Cheryl is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School.

Burundi, Gambia, and now South Africa have all recently announced their intentions to withdraw from what they deride as a “biased” International Criminal Court (ICC). The permanent tribunal responsible for investigating crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes that was created in 1998. It’s the latest indignity to the court that has been weakened not only by misaligned incentives that enable it to bring cases globally and yet rely mostly upon member states to enforce its actions, but also by the cozy relationship that has emerged between the ICC’s members and its cases. Thirty-four of its 123 members are African states and all thirty-one individuals that the office of the prosecutor has charged with crimes since the ICC began operating in 2002 are African. Read more »