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 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 »

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 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)

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 »

Nigeria Moves Against Corrupt Judges

by John Campbell
Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

According to the Nigerian media, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) arrested seven judges over the weekend for corruption and is planning to move against an additional eight. Among the seven are three supreme court justices. The arrested judges are to be arraigned in court yesterday and then released on bail. Read more »

Nigeria’s War Against Indiscipline

by John Campbell
Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari rides on the motorcade while inspecting the guard of honour at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

In 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari said “The long-cherished and time honored, time-tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, good neighborliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, have given way in the main to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.” He said much the same thing when he was military chief of state from 1983 to 1985. Read more »

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)

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 Guest Blogger for John Campbell and 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)

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 »