John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "South Africa"

‘Brexit’ and South Africa

by John Campbell
A statue of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela is seen silhouetted after its unveiling in London's Parliament Square August 29, 2007.  (Courtesy Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico) A statue of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela is seen silhouetted after its unveiling in London's Parliament Square August 29, 2007. (Courtesy Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico)

Asmita Parshotam, Cyril Prinsloo, and Elizabeth Sidiropoulos have written a thoughtful analysis of the impact on South Africa should the UK vote to exit the European Union on June 23. Their analysis was published June 21 by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). 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 »

U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits South Africa

by John Campbell
Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) smiles after being ceremonially sworn in at the US Capitol in Washington, November 15, 2010. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) smiles after being ceremonially sworn in at the US Capitol in Washington, November 15, 2010. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s “Ripples of Hope” speech at the University of Cape Town, a congressional delegation (codel) visited South Africa the last week of May. It was led by Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and an icon of the American civil rights movement; Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware; and Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Senator Kennedy and the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a U.S. based non-profit organization. Read more »

Islamist Terrorism in South Africa

by John Campbell
A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Over the past few days, both the United Kingdom and the United States have warned their nationals of a possible Islamist terrorist attack in South Africa. The warnings cite upscale shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town as the most likely targets. Read more »

The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker

by John Campbell
Volunteers set up eight thousand candles in the shape of the African continent as part of a demonstration entitled "Africa needs medicine now" at the parliament square in Berne, Switzerland December 1, 2005. (Reuters/Pascal Lauener) Volunteers set up eight thousand candles in the shape of the African continent as part of a demonstration entitled "Africa needs medicine now" at the parliament square in Berne, Switzerland December 1, 2005. (Reuters/Pascal Lauener)

The Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa Program has just “soft-launched” a new online tool we call the Sub-Saharan Security Tracker (SST). We anticipate a roundtable at the Council’s New York and Washington offices to introduce formally the SST. In the meantime, it is available for use. Read more »

South Africa’s Land “Expropriation Bill”

by John Campbell
A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

There is less than meets the eye to the South African parliament’s passage at the end of May of a land reform bill, called the “Expropriation Bill.” Ostensibly, the new legislation has some similarity to law of eminent domain in the United States. The new legislation would permit the government to take land for a “public purpose,” but (as in the United States) South African landowners would be compensated with an amount determined by a new ‘valuer general.’ The new legislation replaces the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle of land reform. Read more »

Rugby, Race, and South Africa

by John Campbell
Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula (2nd R) gestures after the appointment of the new Springboks rugby coach Allister Coetzee (2nd L) as the president of South African Rugby Union Oregan Hoskins (L) and the CEO of South African Rugby Union Jurie Roux look on in Randburg, outside Johannesburg, April 12, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula (2nd R) gestures after the appointment of the new Springboks rugby coach Allister Coetzee (2nd L) as the president of South African Rugby Union Oregan Hoskins (L) and the CEO of South African Rugby Union Jurie Roux look on in Randburg, outside Johannesburg, April 12, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

South Africa’s sporting record is outstanding. The country regularly produces world-class performances in golf, tennis, cricket, rugby, and soccer (‘football’). As with much else, sports in South Africa are shaped by race. Under apartheid, like everything else, sports were strictly segregated by race. White South Africans, especially, were ‘sports mad,’ and felt keenly the imposition of sporting sanctions as part of the world wide anti-apartheid campaign. Of the two mass spectator sports, rugby was ‘white’ while soccer was ‘black.’ Other sports, such as tennis and golf, were almost exclusively play by white South Africans. Read more »

South African Firefighters in Canada

by John Campbell
Firefighters battle to control a bushfire in Cape Town's Tokai forest, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Firefighters battle to control a bushfire in Cape Town's Tokai forest, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

A footnote to the May 2016 forest and brush fires in Alberta, Canada is the presence of three hundred South African professional firefighters. They had previously received training in the use of Canadian firefighting equipment. Air Canada transported the firefighters from South Africa to northern Alberta, a flight that lasted more than twenty hours. According to Canadian media, the flight was the first time Air Canada operated to South Africa. Read more »

Morning in South Africa

by John Campbell
From the cover of Morning in South Africa, a book written by John Campbell. From the cover of Morning in South Africa, a book written by John Campbell.

My new book on South Africa is now available in hardcover and Kindle. The book’s core argument is that despite the corruption and incompetency of the Zuma administration combined with slow economic growth, the country’s democratic institutions are strong enough to weather the current period of poor governance. Read more »

South Africa’s Currency Falls Again on Rumors of Finance Minister’s Arrest

by John Campbell
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gestures during a media briefing in Sandton near Johannesburg, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gestures during a media briefing in Sandton near Johannesburg, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

On May 15, the Sunday Times (English, Johannesburg) published rumors of the impending arrest of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over alleged revenue service irregularities. However, on May 16, Beeld (Afrikaans, Johannesburg) reported that President Zuma denied the Sunday Times report. Nevertheless, the South African national currency, the rand (ZAR), fell the following two days, reaching its weakest level in two months; it has fallen 2.1 percent against the U.S. dollar since March 15. Read more »