John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Robert Mugabe"

Zimbabwe Update: #ThisFlag and War Veterans

by John Campbell
Supporters of Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire's sit outside the Harare Magistrates court during Mawarire's trial, July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Supporters of Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire's sit outside the Harare Magistrates court during Mawarire's trial, July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

The Mugabe regime appears to be continuing to unravel. After the regime arrested Evan Mawarire, a Christian pastor who has emerged as a leader of the protest movement #ThisFlag, judges in an unusual show of independence, ordered his release. Mawarire has now gone to South Africa, but denies he is seeking asylum, according to media. The media also reports that President Robert Mugabe has now referred to Mawarire by name, accusing him of organizing “violent” protests: “So beware these men of cloth, not all of them are true preachers of the Bible. I don’t know whether they are serving God. They spell God in reverse.” The Mugabe regime is also accusing “Western embassies” of supporting the #ThisFlag movement, especially the American and French ambassadors. Protests organized by #ThisFlag have been non-violent. However, there has been violence associated with the official security services. Read more »

Zimbabwe and an “Arab Spring”

by John Campbell
Zimbabwean protesters wait outside the Harare Magistrates court before the arrival of arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwean protesters wait outside the Harare Magistrates court before the arrival of arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Zimbabwe is rapidly deteriorating, if not imploding. In the midst of a drought, estimates are that up to half of the rural population will face hunger or famine in the coming year. The economy is contracting, and the government is running out of hard currency, British sterling, the U.S. dollar, and the South African Rand, which it uses since it abandoned its own currency. The government is failing to pay its civil servants and some of its security forces and has imposed a ban on imports from South Africa. Unemployment figures are so high – up to 85 percent –as to be meaningless. The government’s diamond revenue is running out or diverted. President Robert Mugabe – at times referred to as “Uncle Bob” – is 92 years of age, and it shows. His political behavior is increasingly quixotic. He has abandoned a traditional pillar of his regime, the “war veterans,” who played a crucial role as Mugabe’s thugs and drove the white farmers out. He has even threatened the “veterans” with mayhem if they dabble in succession politics. Read more »

The Likelihood of Instability in Zimbabwe

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Tyler Falish is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, and a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

Last spring, the Council on Foreign Relations published a Contingency Planning Memorandum (CPM) by Ambassador George F. Ward that described the potential for political instability and violence in Zimbabwe. Amb. Ward detailed three paths to instability in Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe’s death before an appointed successor is installed; a serious challenge to Mugabe’s control driven by increased factionalism; and an economic crisis triggering demand for political change. He also offered three corresponding “warning indicators”: any sign that Mugabe’s health is in decline; indication of increased dissent or infighting within the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); and public unrest. Read more »

Africa’s Leadership

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace cut a birthday cake at celebrations at Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo, February 27, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace cut a birthday cake at celebrations at Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo, February 27, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

It is no secret that bad leadership at the top has long been a brake on the economic, political, and social development of certain African countries. Many years the Mo Ibrahim Prize for leadership by an African president who leaves office at the end of his term goes unrewarded. There have been numerous, egregious examples of bad presidential leadership over the past few weeks. Read more »

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 »

Mugabe and Obiang Call for Security Council Reform

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) and his Equatorial Guinea counterpart Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo arrive for the opening of the Harare Agricultural Show, August 31, 2007. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) and his Equatorial Guinea counterpart Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo arrive for the opening of the Harare Agricultural Show, August 31, 2007. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is a perennial African chestnut. The UNSC is more involved in Africa than in any other region, and many Africans feel it is acutely unjust that none of the permanent members are from the continent. (The permanent members are the victorious powers in World War II: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States.) 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 »

Putin’s Russia and Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Eugene Steinberg, an assistant editor at the Council on Foreign Relations.

From 1961 to 1992, one of Moscow’s most prestigious schools bore the name of Patrice Lumumba, the Soviet-supported Congolese independence leader brutally executed in 1961. Patrice Lumumba University recruited and educated generations of foreign leaders, especially African leaders, and was just one of the many ways in which the Soviet Union cultivated ties with Africa. Then with the fall of the Soviet Union, after years of pouring money, arms, and manpower into left-leaning anticolonial movements, Russia’s presence in Africa, and Lumumba University, nearly disappeared overnight. But today, two decades later, Russia is once again working to establish a foothold on the continent. Read more »

South African Rule of Law Threatened

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

From the perspective of the expectations of Nelson Mandela, South Africa has been treading water, if not worse, especially since the national elections of 2014. Economic growth remains an anemic 2 percent or less, thereby challenging Mandela’s assumption that poverty could be eliminated rapidly. Public concerns about corruption remain unaddressed. Parliament appears increasingly dysfunctional. Its procedures are under assault by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters and stonewalling tactics by the Zuma government over corruption. Read more »

Is Rhodes’ Statue Removal Setting a Bad Precedent?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The statue of Cecil John Rhodes is bound by straps as it awaits removal from the University of Cape Town, April 9, 2015. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) The statue of Cecil John Rhodes is bound by straps as it awaits removal from the University of Cape Town, April 9, 2015. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by John Causey, a private equity practitioner with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa transactions.

On April 9, the University of Cape Town (UCT) removed the statue on its main campus of Cecil John Rhodes, one of the most important and contentious historical figures in Southern Africa’s history. This is not the first statue or name changing controversy in South Africa’s modern history. Read more »